Deciding to transfer can be a big decision. Meet several students who transferred into Manhattan College after starting out somewhere else. They've each found home here at MC and are loving life as Jaspers.
A short conversation with Manhattan College senior Robert Milano will reveal that his ambitions extend past campus, throughout New York City, and into the world beyond.
So as a freshman at a largely commuter school, the Long Island native was disappointed with the fact that his college career was contained to one building where he slept, ate, studied and went to class.
After visiting friends at Manhattan, Milano applied to the College in the fall of 2010 as a finance major, eager to embrace the campus community and utilize the resources of the big city.
“It was warm,” Milano says, describing his first encounter with Manhattan College. “Now when I think of home, I want to be back here.”
With the help of Michael Petri, Manhattan’s director of transfer admissions, Milano made a quick transition during his sophomore year and found his niche among other transfer students who lived in the East Hill residence hall.
Since then, he’s played a part in many College activities – as tech director of MCTV, as a member of Lasallian Collegians and Just Peace, and as an admissions tour guide and orientation leader.
Sharing his own transfer experience to the prospective students he meets, Milano is honest in encouraging them to find the right fit.
“I tell them, ‘If this school doesn’t talk to you, don’t feel pressured,’” he says.
“But the people here are phenomenal,” he continues, without skipping a beat. “I like that I can see 30 people I know in an hour at Dante’s, and I can still meet new people every day.”
True to form, Milano met a group of new friends in Ecuador as a participant in the College’s Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.) trip in January, working with children at an after-school program and leprosy patients at the Damien House hospital.
Inspired by their desire to learn despite the poor conditions, Milano’s renewed appreciation for education is helping him focus on finance this semester and work toward an internship at Merrill Lynch or Blackrock. Still, he leaves enough time to enjoy photography in the city and rock out at Dayglow and DeadMau5 concerts.
While he’s proud to call himself a Jasper, Milano doesn’t regret taking the time to find his way home.
“Realistically, I wouldn’t change my experience,” he says. “The people I met, I met for a reason because I transferred.”
Last spring, Zachary Zerio stepped foot on Manhattan College’s campus for the first time as a wide-eyed freshman with an admissions tour group. A year later, he’s the one giving the tours.
Zerio, now a sophomore communication major with a focus in advertising and a minor in digital media art, started his college career at a private school in New England, but says he never felt connected beyond the classroom.
Unsure of how to resolve the issue, he moved home to Glastonbury, Conn., and attended community college for a semester. Then he turned his attention to New York City – specifically, Manhattan College.
“I liked the ‘best of both worlds’ appeal,” Zerio says, recalling the “positive vibes” he got from walking around the Quad. “There’s so much to take advantage of.”
During the summer, Zerio kept in touch with his Manhattan tour guide, Mary Bishop, a fellow communication major and transfer student.
“Zack is just such a great person that I knew we would be friends,” Bishop said. “So then when the year started I introduced him to a lot of the people I knew. It made him feel like more a part of the school.”
The friendship helped Zerio make a smooth transition to Riverdale in the fall of 2011, where he wasted no time getting involved and meeting classmates.
Today you can hear Zerio’s music program on WRCM Manhattan College radio, you can find him giving tours through campus to prospective students, and on the weekends, he’s likely at a Matt & Kim concert in the city.
“You have to be willing to be proactive,” Zerio says, already anticipating studying abroad and landing a dream internship at Rolling Stone in the coming years.
Zerio finished off his first semester at Manhattan with an experience authentic to the Jasper community. He recently spent a week of his winter break on a Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.) trip in New Orleans, rebuilding the city’s homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Nicknamed “Techno” by his New Orleans site manager, the always-upbeat Zerio now has a new, close-knit group of friends from the trip and plans on returning next year as a student leader.
Looking back on the past two years, Zerio sees his decision-making process as a learning experience.
“I gained a lot of independence,” he says. “You don’t really know a school until you’ve lived there. It has to be a personal fit.”
Arielle Simmons admits to stumbling upon Manhattan College, drawn in by the quaint Quad and smiling faces printed in a green packet delivered to her mailbox.
She visited Riverdale on a whim, driving from her home in Bergen County, N.J., and taking the scenic Henry Hudson Parkway to campus.
“I fell in love with the warm and welcoming atmosphere,” she says, remembering how she and her grandmother marveled at the beauty of the neighborhood in autumn.
Although Manhattan became her top choice, Simmons enrolled in a state school, considering the decision a sensible financial option for her family. But cost was put on the backburner when she realized that the large school and its 10,000+ student body were too different from the close-knit community she sought.
“The number one thing is to be comfortable in your element,” she says. “I had come from a small high school, and I was completely out of out my realm.”
When Simmons and her grandmother returned to Riverdale to meet with Michael Petri, Manhattan’s director of transfer admissions, he found the two excitedly pointing out the windows overlooking campus, just as they had first time.
Finally a Jasper, Simmons made up for lost time by learning as much about the school as possible. She attended a student leadership conference, applied to be an admissions tour guide and helped promote Green Club with a friend. On the weekends, she frequented her favorite museums and soaked up the culture of nearby New York City.
Now a sophomore, Simmons’ next big decision is choosing a major that fits her bubbly, artistic personality – communication or French, she thinks.
“I feel balanced,” she says. “Classes, social living and clubs all come together in a perfect balance here. I can assess myself and grow.”
Having attended another college, Simmons says she has a different perspective and an added appreciation for what Manhattan has to offer. When she gives tours, she encourages students to find their niche.
“Follow your heart. I hope it lies here, like it does for me,” she says. “And don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Compliment someone’s shoes if you like them, or take part in class discussion. You’ll grow as a person.”
Occasionally, Simmons wanders back to the comfort zone, taking time to walk through the “urban meets suburban” neighborhood she fell in love with two years ago.
“This isn’t just my school,” she says. “It’s my home.”