I Transferred to Yale and Here’s My Biggest Takeaway (So Far).

Instagram photo of Congrats on Yale cake

“Oh, you’re a transfer? What resco did you transfer from?” 

Although I did transfer residential colleges (that’s another story in and of itself), when I introduce myself as a transfer student, I’m usually met with a lot of confusion. However, I don’t fault anyone for that. I mean, transfer students are only about 1% of the undergraduate population. To use an overly dramatic but somewhat accurate comparison, meeting a transfer student here at Yale is as rare as winning the lottery. And so, I welcome this curiosity over how I ended up at Yale.

I won’t lie and say that Yale was my end goal when attending my local community college. I didn’t know everything about it and in fact, I only decided to apply a few weeks before the application deadline (I do not wish this stress on anyone). I had spent two years running away from the big question that chased me: “What’s your next step?” It wasn’t that I was scared of leaving the comfort of my community college. I was scared of not knowing what would be next for me, what would be the best for me. But, as the 2021-2022 transfer application season came up, it was time for me to answer that question.

Paulina Pimentel-Mora taking a selfie in her cap and gown.
Quick selfie before heading off to take graduation pictures!

I loved my community college. I was close to home, had great friends, was studying with wonderful professors and was being provided with an array of opportunities. However, after two years at Citrus College, I had grown far too comfortable. I am the type of person who continually pursues change, and while I love the palm trees and sunshine of Southern California, I knew it was time for a change of scenery. And so, after countless hours of contemplating where to apply, I decided on Yale and a few other colleges.

My letter of acceptance came in late May of 2021, and it took me one day to officially accept my spot as a student. Almost a year and a half later, I can say that Yale was the very best “next step” for me. “How do you know this?” you may be asking.

Paulina Pimentel-Mora wearing Yale merchandise.
More casual magic: Living near Yale Avenue. 

There is casual magic in the way Yale fosters individuality while simultaneously bringing students together to create a sense of community.

For starters, I’m not just a transfer student, and I’m also not just another student here on campus. I am Paulina, from Southern California, passionate about healthcare reform and public policy. I am a die-hard fan of the Yale University Art Gallery, where I work, and am constantly promoting the chai from Koffee. But, more than anything, I bring a unique perspective that is valued here.

In the time I’ve spent at Yale, I’ve been able to take classes on subjects ranging from “Order and Disorder,” “Fashion, Dress, and Music,” “The History of 2020” and “Birth.” As you may imagine, through these classes I’ve met both people who are very similar to me and others who couldn’t be more different. Yet, we all somehow mesh together and are able to foster thought-provoking conversations. (Some of us even become friends.) I’m constantly being challenged to explore new perspectives, learn to be more open-minded, and grow as a person all while being a part of a larger community.

It is still a mind-blowing experience (and lesson in humility) to be walking back to my suite and run into a classmate I hadn’t spoken to in a while, see a professor from a previous semester or bump into the Dean of my college and have them greet me by name. It’s a small world, and Yale is even smaller. 

Yale sign displayed outside of Payne Whitney Gym
The first picture I took on campus, staring in awe at the big Yale sign outside Payne Whitney. 

“Hi everyone, nice to meet you! I’m Paulina, I’m a second-semester junior in Pauli Murray majoring in Political Science. On campus, I’m involved in the Student Health Advisory Council, the Undergraduate Advisory Committee for Political Science and work at the Yale University Art Gallery. I’m also a transfer student, having transferred last year from a community college.”

My introduction tells a lot about me and it also doesn’t tell enough. It also isn’t the same introduction I used my first semester. After community college, I needed to be in a place where I could contiually find myself and make friends along the way. Yale has given me that. There is this casual magic here. You can grow as an individual while also being welcomed into a larger community. 

Group of students on grass outside Sterling Memorial Library
Casual magic on film, taken outside of Sterling Library.