My First Year Experience as a UC Transfer Student | UC Davis

Donia Ghaith smiling in front of Mrak Hall on a sunny day.
Gil Evangelista Martinez

Transferring to a four-year university like UC Davis can seem very intimidating. You might be concerned about how you will adjust to the quarter system, build connections, or find the resources that you need to prepare for your future career. Luckily, Donia Ghaith is here to take you through the process. 

Starting at a Community College

I am a fourth-year, hopefully last year, majoring in design as well as cinema and digital media.  I knew that I wanted to transfer from the get-go, but there weren’t a lot of people from Modesto Junior College that were transferring, as most of them were people in their 40s and 50s. Still, my school was very accommodating and I got to meet a lot of interesting people. Luckily, my older sister transferred to UC Davis a year before I did, so I was able to follow the same steps that she took!

During community college, I had to pick a major for my associate's degree, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I have always been a very creative person, so I chose to major in studio arts, which ended up being the perfect fit for me. Finding out what I wanted to do in community college really helped me find the best schools for me to transfer to. 

Choosing UC Davis: Transfer Admission Guarantee 

At the time I was looking at a lot of different schools, but the main one I was looking at was UC Davis, because it felt like a nice school with a lot of diversity and a strong sense of community. I knew I wanted to be somewhere relaxing and steady rather than the fast-paced culture that city life provides. Davis aligned with everything I wanted, and I was interested in the various majors that it offered. I was looking at design, and I was excited about how there were so many other things I could do within the major there. So I decided to apply for a TAG to UC Davis, which made everything so much easier and it all felt less stressful. When I found out I got into UC Davis 4 months before everybody else, I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to get started!

Making Friends and Taking Classes During My First Quarter

My first quarter as a transfer student was very interesting —I was taking prerequisite classes that I couldn't take at my community college, so I was surrounded by freshmen and sophomores. It felt like I was starting from the bottom and everyone was looking at me. But l remember the first three classes I took were the most exciting, and “Introduction to Design” made me realize just how much I wanted to pursue a degree and career in design. The teachers were so likable and so accommodating… I honestly met some of the coolest teachers.

I tried to take it slow my first couple of quarters because I knew I would need to adjust to the quarter system. Honestly, I didn't really expect anything out of my first couple of quarters, because I figured people would kind of keep to themselves. But when I got here, I was amazed by how involved people are on campus and how easy it was to find friends and community. I was able to meet people who changed my life and cared so much about me. I text some of them more than I text my own family, which is really weird to me, because I never thought I could get that kind of a bond with someone who wasn’t part of my family. I was also able to get closer to my sister who also transferred to UC Davis, and we both got to experience Davis for the first time after COVID. It was a really nice experience that I don’t think I will ever forget.

Building Skills and Applying to Study Abroad

I also got to learn so many things I wouldn’t have been able to during community college, like Adobe Creative Cloud apps Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator, just during my first quarter! Davis has really given me a lot of structure and helped build my technical skills. In one of my favorite classes I was able to design an entire app! At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get much hands-on experience since I was coming in as a transfer student, but there are so many opportunities on campus. Just from the design advising newsletter, I was able to find a summer abroad program in Britain for design majors! Talking to professors was also really helpful; they know so much about how you can get involved, and were such a great resource when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in design. The professors at UC Davis want to help you succeed.

It was also really important for me to get involved outside of my major and meet different kinds of people on campus. Because I looked beyond my major, I was able to join the Davis Political Review and become the creative director, which has helped me create wonderful pieces for my portfolio. The knowledge I have been able to get on campus has prepared me for my future career. I have never felt more confident in my work, my skills, or myself. I am so excited about the future, and know that what I have done here will help me fulfill my goals and create an exciting life.


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