Bridging the Gap and Making Connections for Transfer Students

megan

It’s an early Tuesday morning the week before classes start at Texas Tech University and a group of transfer students and their families are attending Red Raider Orientation. As you enter the Student Union Building, you find a line of people crowding the hallway, nervously waiting for the ballroom doors to open and check-in to begin.

Amongst the chaos and emotions, is Unit Coordinator of Transition & Engagement Megan Ohlmann. Ohlmann has a real knack for making connections with incoming transfer students and their families. She runs the Transfer Connection Program, which encompasses all things transfer-related and sees to it that orientation and the transfer process for incoming students is the very best it can be.

Ohlmann said she strives to find ways to grow and improve the Transfer Connection Program, which currently serves around 3,400 incoming transfer students a year.

“My mission is to help transfer students create points of connection from once they are admitted all the way through their first year by giving them opportunities to connect to the university and each other,” Ohlmann said.

Ohlmann’s strong leadership, work ethic, positive influence on Transition & Engagement and Texas Tech University have earned her a 2015 Distinguished Staff Award. On Nov. 20, Ohlmann received the President’s Award of Excellence from Texas Tech University President Dr. Duane Nellis.

Ohlmann’s eligibility requirements for this award included continuous service with the university for more than one year and completion of all required trainings. She was nominated because she demonstrates strong leadership skills, makes presentations, serves on committees, volunteers for campus activities, and has a positive influence within her department and the Texas Tech Community.

In 2012, Ohlmann joined the office of Transition & Engagement and took charge of the Transfer Connection Program. This program encompasses Transfer Ambassadors, Transfer Techsans, Transfer Leadership Connection, and Transfer Student Welcome Day.

“I love student leadership,” Ohlmann said. “I love working with students, and I have come to really love transfer students.”

Rachel Jackson, assistant director of Transition & Engagement said Ohlmann came to the area at a time in which the university had seen a steady five-year growth in the transfer student population. She said with this new larger population, Transition & Engagement had an opportunity and challenge to meet the unique needs of transfer students. Jackson said when Ohlmann’s came to Transition & Engagement they already had the Transfer Connection Program, but it was lacking direction and support.

“What we were missing was an individual to champion the needs of our transfer students,” Jackson said, “and Ohlmann proved to be that individual.”

Jackson said during the past two years, Ohlmann has taken the lackluster Transfer Connection Program, which consisted of a website with tips to “battle transfer shock”, and provided the momentum and enthusiasm needed to really gear Transitions & Engagement’s services to the needs of transfer students.

“I kind of just built it from the ground up,” Ohlmann said, “and we continue to grow it a little bit each year.”

Ohlmann said in her first year, she started with Transfer Ambassadors, and they just worked orientation. The next year she added contacting students in the spring semester to the responsibilities of the Transfer Ambassadors. This last year, she added in the fall programming, peer mentorship, and leadership retreat.

“Ohlmann has completely redesigned the transfer student experience,” Jackson said.

Jackson said Ohlmann is a lifelong learner and is always on the lookout for new inventive ideas to implement on campus to benefit transfer students.  Ohlmann has attended several professional development classes, and from the knowledge she has gained she has implemented better business practices.

Jackson said all of the knowledge Ohlmann gains she is able to share and incorporate through not only the Transfer Connection Program, but also through committees she serves on. Ohlmann serves on the Red Raider Orientation Advisor Committee and leads the coordination of relevant information on transfer students as it pertains to orientation. She is also a member of the Raider Welcome Committee and helps to plan and produce welcome events for incoming students.

Ohlmann said a lot of the things she does, she sees as learning opportunities. She said when she serves on committees, she gets to meet a lot of people and it is always beneficial to get to know other people and what they do because it helps her to be better at her job when referring students to places on campus.

“When you serve on committees you get to know other people on campus, and I plan on staying at Texas Tech and working here for the rest of my career,” Ohlmann said.

Ohlmann said another way she is likes to challenge herself is to give presentations. She said she has prepared and presented on requirements for transfer students to the Tech Transfer Acceleration Program (TTAP) and Alternative Admissions Program.

“It keeps you from getting stagnant or bored in your job because you are always trying to learn and do something new and go above and beyond,” Ohlmann said.

Jackson said through all of the work Ohlmann does, she has been able to build relationships across campus to create bridges and ease the transition for transfer students. She said Ohlmann has developed partnerships with the Office of Admissions, the Office of Community College and Transfer Relations, and the academic advising community.

“Her attitude is that everyone, pulling together, can make the university a better place to work and a better place for students to get a true education,” Jackson said.

Ohlmann said she was shocked when she found out that she had won the President’s award. She had no idea that she had even been nominated and did not find out until she was notified that she had won the award.

“I was super surprised and really excited,” Ohlmann said, “especially because the President’s Award is one of the top categories of the Distinguished Staff Awards.”

Ohlmann said having her boss nominate her for the award makes her feel really valued as an employee.

“I think things like this are what makes you feel like you really matter to your department,” Ohlmann said, “and it shows you that you are important to them and they appreciate the work you are doing.”

Ohlmann said receiving the award gives her a really good sense of belonging with the university. She loves feeling like the university wants to honor staff members and recognize what they are doing.

“It’s great to have President Nellis take his time to come to the banquet and honor all of the award winners,” Ohlmann said. “It makes me feel like I am a part of the Red Raider family and makes me feel really glad to work at Texas Tech.”

 

NicoleCropped

by Nicole Terrell
Senior Agriculture Communications Major

 

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