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Transfer students find community during Destination Iowa State

Silent+Disco+located+inside+in+the+MUs+Maintenance+Shop+on+Aug.+18%2C+2023.
Joseph Dicklin
Silent Disco located inside in the MU’s Maintenance Shop on Aug. 18, 2023.

Free food, free merch and free entertainment all serve as a way for incoming students to learn more about campus and meet new friends during Destination Iowa State (DIS), a kickoff to the academic year which lasted three days.

The program offering new-to-campus students a way to feel at home had welcomed over 4,600 students as of Friday night, according to New Student Programs. That number is 400 students higher than last year.

Although the event is traditionally thought of as a way to welcome freshmen students, DIS also welcomes a group of students who are not new to college, but are new to Iowa State.

Alyssa Oelmann, a sophomore transfer student from St. Cloud State studying animal science, said DIS has served as a way to build relationships. She said she “has known not a single person” since moving to Ames in August.

Jenna Hoffman holding up some Late Night @ The MU pamphlets outside of the MU Cafeteria on Aug. 18, 2023. (Joseph Dicklin)

“I’ve just kind of been in my apartment with my cat and having like no face-to-face interaction with actual humans,” Oelmann said while at Late Night, one of the DIS events offered over the weekend. “And so just kind of like getting to get a little acclimated and like used to campus and like kind of forced to talk to people and mostly people outside of my major is like, you know, pretty nice just so I can have a few people I can like hit up and be like, ‘Hey, you want to meet somewhere to do something?’”

Oelmann found what she was looking for: a friend. Oelmann and Allison Arnold, a junior transfer student from Des Moines Area Community College in software engineering, took in Late Night at the MU together, an event that featured bingo, a silent disco, free food and circus act duo, the Great DuBois.

The two transfer students did not know each other before DIS, but met because of it.

“I’ve enjoyed [DIS],” Arnold said. “I’ve met a lot of people. It definitely feels very welcoming.”

Arnold and Oelmann said they thought one of the best parts about DIS was learning about resources on campus, a feature made intentionally for students to find their way in the campus community.

“Destination Iowa State is really all about helping students like prepare for the first day of class, and feeling confident in what they’re about to do,” Sarah Merrill, director of New Student Programs said.

DIS offers students multiple opportunities to interact with campus organizations, including at Thursday’s event, the Center of Excytement at Hilton Coliseum, where various organizations have booths set up to introduce themselves to ISU’s newest students.

“We hope that what students experience at Destination Iowa State opens their eyes and helps them continue to engage and that their experiences don’t just end at Destination Iowa State,” Merrill said.

The Great Dubois’ front man Michael DuBois completing a juggling act for the Great Hall’s audience located in the Memorial Union on Aug. 18, 2023. (Joseph Dicklin)

DIS has specific programs for transfer students, such as Transfermation, an opportunity to network with other transfer students and to learn about transfer student-specific programs.

“We want to honor that previous experience, you know, knowing that they’ve experienced a college or university before but help them make those connections here at Iowa State and kind of figure out like, how do I learn the ropes for Iowa State?” Merrill said.

Putting on a program the size of Destination Iowa State relies on student help, including cyclone aides, many of which helped plan the event earlier this summer, and team leaders who guide the students through the events.

Kellen Arkfeld, a sophomore in finance and Nathan Abbott, a sophomore in cyber security engineering, met at DIS as freshman last year and teamed up this year to lead a group of the freshman class around campus.

“All these freshmen are pretty amazing,” Abbott said Friday evening in front of his group of students. “So the first day and like the beginning of today, I’d say everyone’s like in their shell because they haven’t talked to anyone, but I’d say by now you guys are all pretty chill with each other… It feels like we’re all best friends and we’ve known each other for a while now even though it’s only been like 24 hours,” Abbott said.

“DIS makes meeting friends easier,” Arkfield said.

“It’s easy, right?” Arkfeld asked. ”Like, you have to make an extra bit of effort to join like a club or like a sorority or frat but DIS, everyone does at least a day.”

DIS concluded Saturday night with hypnotist and comedian Chris Jones performing in C.Y. Stephens Auditorium.

 

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