College seniors Kim Gordon and Nikolai Zapertov have been creating a smoother transition for transfer students since fall 2011.
Gordon and Zapertov are the co-presidents of the Transfer Student Organization and recipients of the Abraham D. Cohn Senior Prize. They were recognized for using TSO to assist transfer students with adapting to life at Penn. They are the first transfer students to receive the award, which honors outstanding students in the College annually.
TSO works to ensure that the approximately 150 transfers a year don’t fall under the radar. While one of TSO’s initial programs was an experimental chat room set up for asking questions, the organization now has a full blown mentorship program where each transfer student has a mentor to help them adapt to life at Penn. Aside from providing mentorship, TSO hosts events for transfer students and represents them in campus politics.
The Transfer Student Organization was founded in fall 2011, when a small group of transfer students felt that the existing resources for transfers at Penn were insufficient. One of these students was Gordon, who based many of the organization’s initiatives off of her own experiences.
When she first arrived at Penn, Gordon said she found it “hard to navigate extracurriculars.” She wanted to “foster a community” for transfer students and give them a way to connect.
Zapertov had a similar experience when he first came to Penn.
“You are already well-established at your old school,” Zapertov said. "[When you transfer] you get lost very easily and don’t know where to turn to.”
TSO also assists transfer students during New Student Orientation. This event is especially important to TSO because it is a student’s first impression of the University. Due to TSO’s efforts, NSO now holds special late night events and information sessions for transfers.
An event that is becoming an NSO tradition for TSO is the group's crepe night. This was the first social event TSO ever provided for transfer students — and was where Gordon and Zapertov first met.
Smaller projects include editing the Road Map to Penn to include sections for transfers and making sure class boards provide transfers with appropriate Penn gear and ensuring transfers receive apparel with their year and school. TSO has also built communities within on-campus housing, whereas before, transfers were placed wherever there were vacancies.
Gordon and Zapertov expect to receive the award this coming May.