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Transition: where did they come from, where did they go?

A group of women stand in a team huddled in soccer uniforms
Hayley McQuade and Malone University’s soccer team.

By Danielle Castillo & Hannah Traczynski

For students, the four years in college offer opportunities and options. Transition looks different for each student; for some, that means transferring to a new university. Students come and go from Rochester University for various reasons; each story is unique.

Cost and community were major contributing factors toward sophomore Diana Helferty’s decision to transfer from RU to Macomb Community College to pursue a degree in education in 2023. “It wasn’t worth it for me to get in a lot of debt,” she said. If the overall experience at RU had been more favorable, with a larger community or a lower cost, she might have chosen to stay, she said.

Helferty in a car.
Sophomore Diana Helferty

Helferty, who describes herself as an extrovert, found the prospect of making new friends, connecting with old friends, and adapting to a new environment at a larger school quite easy. Additionally, she said MCC offers more extracurricular activities.

Proximity contributed to sports management junior Luke Acton’s journey to RU. His decision was rooted in his passion for bowling. The opportunity of pursuing this sport in a collegiate setting was a compelling factor. RU is close to home, and Acton enjoyed the prospect of having a strong support network of nearby friends and family. His story resonates with countless transfer students who seek opportunities to excel academically at RU while relishing the comfort of familiarity.

A former Shield editor, Hayley McQuade, transferred from RU in her junior year and now studies digital arts at Malone University in Ohio. McQuade had first considered transferring from RU after her freshman year when her degree track was no longer being offered. Eager for the degree she desired and driven by a commitment to constant improvement, she also sought increased challenges in sports and spiritual growth.

In addition to seeking a larger institution, McQuade sought a greater faith culture and godly

presence in the classroom, with student-athletes and among her peers. “I wasn’t really getting that fulfillment,” she said. “I had it within myself to seek Christ, but I just wanted to be in an environment where it was valued.”

McQuade started her search with schools in the Division II Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Malone University was on the list. “As soon as I saw ‘Christ’s kingdom first’ in their logo I’m like, ‘God, this couldn’t be more of a bigger sign.’ I just admire that because that’s the boldness in Christ that I want to see,” she said.

McQuade said RU provided her with the mental, physical and emotional preparedness to transfer. While improving in soccer, she grew professionally and networked at RU. “I believe my foundation is solid enough, that I’m able to go into new heights without being shaken.”

For some, their transition to RU has been rocky. Junior Rachel Caseria, a strategic leadership in business major from Hawaii, came to join the bowling team. She often grapples with feelings of needing to fully belong to a close-knit community and occasionally questions whether the campus aligns with its reputation for a tight-knit environment.

Caseria faces hurdles when it comes to connecting with the family aspect of the university, primarily due to the considerable distance separating her from her family in Hawaii. However, amid these challenges, she finds solace in the nature surrounding campus. The serene lake, expansive woods and intimate campus setting create a cozy atmosphere that she said she appreciates.

Additionally, Caseria acknowledges the invaluable support she receives from dedicated professors who are unwavering in their commitment to ensuring her success in her academic journey. Their guidance and mentorship provide comfort and encouragement as

she navigates her educational pursuits at RU.

Walter’s stands against a green forest
Freshman Ellah Walters

Ellah Walters, a freshman who studied accounting at RU, was temporarily hospitalized part way through her first semester at RU. She discovered she would need to retake her classes. Walters opted instead to transfer to MCC. She said she was unwilling to invest more money at RU.

Additionally, Walters said though she liked chapel, RU did not support her Catholic faith or explain how things worked, and she was left relying on her peers to figure things out. After talking with a professor from Macomb Community College, she thought transferring would be better for her. Macomb was closer to her home; her cousin went there, and it seemed like a safer route. Though she liked the RU community, the financial burden greatly

impacted her.

The process of transferring was not easy, she said. She found it confusing and frustrating. Now, Walters is looking to study at Macomb to be a surgical assistant. She aims to maintain her GPA and make connections in her field. 

As students come and go, the stories they leave behind contribute to the tapestry of the institution. Students find themselves on a diverse spectrum of experiences. Some embody the pursuit of one’s passion, while others’ challenges underscore the reality of life’s struggles and the importance of adapting to a new environment. 

For some, that means joining the RU community, but for others, that means leaving RU. Either way, their unique journeys share a common thread of striving to better themselves academically, physically and personally.



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