The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students, or NISTS, recently recognized UC Berkeley senior Diana Castro as one of four 2018 national transfer student ambassadors.
In selecting the ambassadors, NISTS looks for transfer students that display “leadership, public speaking and their potential for sharing meaningful information with higher education transfer professionals.”
Ambassadors were chosen based on a letter of recommendation, resume and a written and video response about their transfer journey and potential impact on the transfer student community.
“We’re hoping that we can really promote their voice,” said Janet Marling, executive director of NISTS. “(We hope to) utilize them as representatives of students across the country who have experienced the positives and the negatives.”
She added that the selected applicants possessed a commitment to streamlining the transfer process and contributed leadership skills in their current environments.
Castro, a first-generation college student, said UC Berkeley was her first choice when transferring from Irvine Valley College in spring 2016. Since transferring, Castro has studied abroad in Paris and interned at the Self-Help and Family Law centers in Alameda County. She currently works as Peer Advocate Lead for the events team at the Transfer Student Center.
Miriam Lagunas, program assistant at the Transfer Student Center, said Castro demonstrated her passion and leadership skills as the only peer advocate who stayed at the transfer center during the summer.
NISTS transfer student ambassadors are given the opportunity to attend the annual NISTS conference held at the University of North Georgia. The conference allows the transfer student ambassadors and professionals from higher-education institutions to convene and discuss research and policies pertaining to transfer students.
Castro said that at the upcoming conference, she would like to encourage professionals working with transfer students to advise students not to feel limited by their two years at a four-year university.
“I definitely want to talk about the transition as being a transfer student and acknowledging that everyone has a different experience,” Castro said.
Christian Riesgo, peer advocate lead for Education 198 at the Transfer Student Center, described Castro as ambitious and committed to improving the lives of transfer students. Riesgo added that he hopes Castro will bring attention to the transfer student population and emphasize their sense of belonging to the campus community.
Castro encouraged transfer students to slow down and enjoy the semester. She also advised students to step out of their comfort zones to find their niche, even if they feel uncomfortable doing so.
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself in a space where you think you don’t belong,” Castro said. “It’s really easy, especially as a transfer student, to have this imposter syndrome where you just don’t think you belong.”