Published: Aug. 29, 2022

CU Boulder can often feel like a big place with a lot going on. It can sometimes be challenging to figure out what to do outside of class or how to meet new friends—especially if you are a new student. 

Nicola Wheeler felt this in her first year at CU Boulder as an international transfer student. After a friend helped her find resources and get involved, everything changed. Now in her senior year, Nicola works as a transfer peer mentor in New Student & Family Programs (NSFP) and strives to offer the same help to fellow Transfer Buffs. 

Finding ways to get involved

When Nicola transferred to CU Boulder, a friend helped shape her experience by sharing resources and tips for how to meet others and get involved. 

“I had a very lonely freshman year and felt that I didn’t have many friends, so that person really made a difference in changing how I went into my sophomore year. I started enjoying being in Boulder a lot more,” said Nicola. 

Student jobs are a great way to get more involved on campus, and Nicola applied to work as a transfer peer mentor after reflecting on how her friend helped her after a lonely first year. 

“I thought if I could do that for someone else, that would be great because it really changed my whole way of seeing my university career and being in Boulder, and made it so much more fun,” said Nicola. “I know the feelings of being alone and like you don’t know anyone, you don’t know how things work, things are different and you feel like everyone has got their communities. That person helped me, so I should try to give back to someone else.”

Growing the Transfer Student Community

At her on-campus job, Nicola helps transfer students learn about resources and find ways to get involved. Part of her role is also helping transfer students meet each other and growing the Transfer Student Community at CU Boulder. 

Nicola’s position in NSFP is relatively new, and she has enjoyed figuring out how to bring people together. Her team plans campus events and recently launched a Discord chat specifically for CU Boulder transfer students. The Discord is becoming a place for transfer students to plan meetups on the weekends and outside of school.

“I really enjoy seeing other people come to the events and have fun, and be supported,” said Nicola. “It’s really exciting to see that the framework we built is working and helping students get together and meet other people.”

Nicola’s job as a transfer peer mentor has also allowed her to make new friends and get more involved on campus herself. She feels a sense of community when she comes to work, with other students and staff members who work in NSFP.

Gaining skills and experiences

In addition to making friends and getting involved, Nicola has gained skills and professional experience as a transfer peer mentor that she can use in jobs after college. 

Planning events requires organizational and communication skills that have helped her outside of her on-campus job. She also has gained a greater sense of independence and confidence, thanks to the support and guidance of her supervisor. 

“Being able to be creative and set up an event by myself, and coordinate that with my supervisor’s support, has been challenging but exciting,” said Nicola.

Nicola also started working in an engineering lab on campus, and says she’s not as nervous due to the confidence she’s gained as a transfer peer mentor. She knows she can work independently, but still approach her supervisors and ask for help if needed.

Advice for fellow Buffs 

In order to share resources and help other transfer students, Nicola has learned more about what CU Boulder has to offer. This has not only helped at her on-campus job but personally as well. Nicola’s advice for fellow Buffs who are looking to get involved is to research and explore what’s out there.

“If you’re looking for more community, just going through campus resources is a really good starting place,” said Nicola. “You can find clubs or different activities that you’d want to do. If I had taken the time in the beginning to do that research, it might have changed how my first year went.”

If you’re a transfer student, connect with the Transfer Student Community and attend upcoming events.

For more ways to get involved: