"I learned that you have to put yourself out there and get involved."

by James Forkan

““Knowing I could make a difference, even a small one, was very rewarding.” —Leela Riquelme

“I became a psychology major because I love probing the mind,” said Leela Riquelme ’15, who transferred from SUNY Oneonta in May 2013 to graduate two years later as a psychology major with a minor in Spanish.

“I love learning and understanding why people do the things that they do and trying to help them recognize their behaviors,” she added. Next, she said, she plans to go on to graduate school for an M.S.W. and ultimately to become a licensed social worker.

In addition to serving as the 2014–2015 vice president of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Riquelme said she managed to juggle an internship, work and classes.

She said, “The highlight of my time with LASO has to be the many dance workshops that we did. I loved how we got people to dance and taught them different dance steps they did not previously know. We did dance workshops including bachata, merengue and some salsa steps.”

When she first arrived on campus, Riquelme said, “I did not know much about the many clubs that we have at Adelphi. I went to a Multicultural Club mixer because I was interested in becoming involved. I met a few of the e-board members of LASO, so I decided to see what LASO was all about. I remember the first time that I went, we played Latin American Jeopardy and had a lot a fun.” She added, “LASO definitely helped me get to know a lot of people with common interests and adjust to living on campus.”

Among the LASO projects she found most fulfilling, she said, were filling goody bags with school supplies for underprivileged children and writing uplifting cards to people suffering from terminal breast cancer. “Knowing I could make a difference, even a small one, was very rewarding.”

Recalling another event that proved “very interesting for me,” she said the great-aunt of a LASO board member’s aunt (and a leader of a Native American tribe) “came in and told us all about their culture and how it is to be a member of one of these tribes. It was a great learning experience. I love learning about different cultures.”

Before choosing Adelphi, Riquelme had considered Hofstra and the University of Maryland, but, she noted, “I was drawn to Adelphi because of the psychology and social work programs, its proximity to New York City and to my home and also because I love the feel of a small college campus.”

To improve one’s transfer experience, she said, “I learned that you have to put yourself out there and get involved. Even if you don’t really want to, it’s important to push yourself to be involved in some sort of activity on campus! It’s essential to make the most of your college experience, especially if you are a transfer. It will help you assimilate better.”

This piece appeared in the Fall 2015 Transfer Students Newsletter

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