NishellieMy story isn’t commonly heard. In fact, when people ask me why I transferred, they’re usually surprised by my answer.

To begin, I’m from Ellicott City, a small suburb located outside of Baltimore, Maryland. For my first two years of college, I attended a medium-sized institution located in a small town in rural Virginia. I chose to attend this institution because it was two hours away from home, I had friends already there, friends planning to go, I enjoyed the campus, and I knew they had a program for my desired major at the time- Psychology. After two wonderful years, four major/minor changes, and countless hours thinking, I woke up on a humid day in June while on vacation with the idea that I needed to attend an institution where I could fully pursue my goals of being a human rights activist. Interestingly enough, CU Boulder happened to be taking applications, so I applied. Approximately 3 weeks later, I was accepted, and that’s when my journey truly started.

I had been to Boulder only once, prior to my decision of choosing to enroll. In Virginia, I lived in a valley, so I really enjoyed hiking, rafting, and overall, being outside. After researching everything about the city of Boulder, the university, my academic programs, and the national parks surrounding the town, I sent in my enrollment deposit. Everything and everyone I ever knew were back home on the east coast, so choosing to move out to the middle of the country was a huge and spontaneous jump for me. I was extremely hesitant at first, but I knew with where my dreams lied, moving to Boulder would be the best way to set up a foundation for myself.

During my time at my previous institution, I changed my majors and minors multiple times because I didn’t think that I could fully invest myself into what I was learning. After taking a class on International Relations during my spring semester of sophomore year, I realized I wanted to learn more about different cultures, as well as the relationships between countries. From a personal aspect, this major interested me because of my family’s background. I was born in Sri Lanka, and my family immigrated to the United States as refugees. Because of this, I wanted to learn more about refugees, and services for them. These topics also sparked my interest in human rights which then led to my desire to pursue a second major- Women and Gender Studies. Unfortunately, Women and Gender Studies was not offered as a major at my previous institution which was another factor of why I chose to pursue my interests at CU Boulder.

My transition into Boulder had its ups and downs. I did not know a single person at school, nor any of the places surrounding it. I got what I wished for- a completely fresh start. I thought making friends would be extremely difficult considering I was completely new and I was an upperclassmen. Fortunately, by living in the transfer residence hall on campus, and becoming involved with the university through clubs and organizations, I was able to find various groups of great friends. I joined student ambassadors, greek life, a pre law fraternity, and the hiking club. All of these clubs and organizations allowed for me to introduce myself to new people, make connections, and find a place for myself here at CU. These clubs and organizations also helped me learn about services around campus such as the Study Abroad Office which assisted me in receiving an internship with a human rights organization in Dublin, Ireland this summer!

I loved my time at my other institution, however after spending nearly two semesters here at CU, I know I am where I need to be. I truly believe I am in an accepting and spirited community which promotes opportunities to help me reach my academic and personal goals. Boulder is also in a beautiful location, right at the base of the Flatirons which are always a place for an adventure. Here at CU, I’m able to connect with others who share my passions of fighting for human rights and exploring the great outdoors. There’s no place I’d rather be.



Nishellie “Nish” Navaratne
International Affairs and Women & Gender Studies, 2018