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Transfer students’ community provides support system during COVID-19

Despite the distance caused by the pandemic, Trojans who started higher ed elsewhere are building community and encouraging each other to succeed.

USC transfer student community
The USC Transfer Student Community Club has around 1,000 members and works to create support and connections for housing, mentorship, social events and career connections. (Illustration/iStock)

When Francesco Loiola started his first semester at USC in fall 2019, he was already well into his academic career. Coming in as a junior from Santa Monica College, he was one of 1,400 incoming transfer students that semester.

Francesco Loiola Transfer Student Community Club

Francesco Loiola, president of the USC Transfer Student Community. (Photo/Courtesy of Francesco Loiola)

Loiola — a business major fluent in Spanish, Italian, English and Portuguese — made a fast connection with the USC Transfer Student Community and became the club’s president this spring.

“We’re a young community, but we have about a thousand members,” Loiola said. “USC has amazing resources, and we want new transfers to be able to find those. A lot of them are just looking for ways to make friends, and we’re creating those connections.”

Housing, mentorship, social events and career connections are part of a push led by Loiola to improve the transfer student experience. That effort got a lift from two faculty members after the pandemic.

“I’m proud of how creative and resilient these students are being under challenging circumstances,” said Tamara Black, assistant professor of writing at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “It’s a population eager for mentorship and ready to take full advantage of all the services and resources we have at USC.”

COVID-19 hasn’t really stopped us from pulling together.

Francesco Loiola

Black and faculty colleague Amanda Bloom built a series of online events early in the fall semester to support transfer students, a remarkably cohesive yet diverse group that thrives on helping each other.

“COVID-19 hasn’t really stopped us from pulling together,” Loiola said. “We’ve got a lot lined up for transfer week, like special editions of our Transfer Student Experience podcast. That experience is our focus, and we’re making it better.”

USC is joining in marking National Transfer Student Week from Oct. 19-23.


50 words from four USC transfer students

Transfer student community Maya Hayun

Maya Hayun (Photo/Louis A Ranor, JMCC Inc.)

“I’m from the heart of Los Angeles, and I’d tell other transfer students headed for USC, ‘Enjoy and appreciate where you are at the moment. Things will come your way. Once you do get here, appreciate that there are so many different people here from so many different places.’”
— Maya Hayun ’23, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Transferred to USC from Pierce College


Transfer student community nelson lee

Nelson Lee (Photo/Courtesy of Nelson Lee)

“Be proud of your story. There’s a negative connotation around community college. That’s not true at all. My first year at Pierce [College] was amazing. I was around so many students who were getting better every day. Getting into USC was my way of thanking my parents for everything they’ve done.”
— Nelson Lee ’23, Business Administration
Transferred to USC from Pierce College


Transfer Student Community Bradley Martin

Bradley Martin (Photo/Courtesy of Bradley Martin)

“It takes some work, but you are the maker of your own future. I got to USC by using the resources I could find, driving through it all. It took internal reflection to figure out where I wanted to be, to break through the glass ceiling I’d made for myself.”
— Bradley Martin ’23, Aerospace Engineering
Transferred to USC from Santa Rosa Junior College


Transfer Student Community Rianna Rios

Rianna Rios (Photo/Courtesy of Rianna Rios)

“At first, I was lost but I’m getting used to the culture of USC and helping others to do the same. I’m part of the Emerging Leaders Program, a mentorship that includes career guidance from transfer alumni. We get to know each other and focus on our individual interests.”
— Rianna Rios ’23, Public Policy
Transferred to USC from Pasadena City College

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