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Making the Most of Your Time as a Transfer Student

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How Pre-med Transfer Student Fallon Gilbert ’20 Turned Uncertainty into Success

Adjusting to a new school as a transfer student can be difficult — there is the daunting task of getting used to a new area, reintroducing yourself to a new social scene and making sure all of your credits carry over. It can be easy to feel like you don’t belong or to get lost in the shuffle.

CHILL student health intern Fallon Gilbert in the SAC.
CHILL student health intern Fallon Gilbert in the SAC.

However, if you push past the anxiety of being in a new place, the rewards can be great. At least, that’s according to Fallon Gilbert ‘20, a pre-med student who transferred to Stony Brook during the fall semester.

“Just because you transferred doesn’t mean your college experience is over. You’re here, so why not get the best out of it,” Gilbert said. “If you’re just going to treat being a student like a job, obviously you’re not going to get enjoyment out of it. But if you do something with your time here — make friends, join a club — that can ultimately help you make connections for your future.”

Gilbert transferred to Stony Brook from SUNY Oneonta. As a Long Island native, Stony Brook was initially his first-choice school. When he didn’t get in, he worked hard to raise his qualifications while at Oneonta, both academically and through extracurriculars, taking a job as a resident assistant and working in other areas of the campus.

Gilbert recognizes more opportunities for personal growth at Stony Brook, especially in his area of interest — health. Rebecca Harrington, his student health educator from Oneonta, was able to put him in contact with Kathleen Valerio, Stony Brook’s Health Educator and Peer Education Program Coordinator, who informed him of the CHILL Peer Education internship. This internship is an experiential learning opportunity supporting student mental health. Along with his position as a CHILL intern, Gilbert also represents the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC).

“She said, ‘There is an internship opportunity,’ and I said, ‘Oh, cool! Let’s do it!’ and I’ve loved it ever since,” Gilbert explained. “It’s basically to promote the health resources on campus but in a peer way, so you don’t feel pressure from an authority, so it’s kind of a student-to-student relationship.”

His involvement as a CHILL intern gave him the further opportunity of attending the New England College Health Association and New York State College Health Association (NECHA/NYSCHA) 2017 Combined Annual Meeting in Burlington, Vermont, through a travel scholarship. The annual meeting is designed for anyone interested in college health, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, clinical support staff, administrators, health educators, mental health professionals, and students.

“Fallon is an invested student advocate, and his work as a member of our SHAC really made him a front-runner for the NYSCHA travel grant,” Valerio said.

During the meeting, Gilbert had the opportunity to see other schools’ ideas on health services and to explore different ways to improve the care and services offered.

Fallon Gilbert hands out health literature to students as part his CHILL internship.
Fallon Gilbert hands out health literature to students as part his CHILL internship.

The event gave perspective on health services for Gilbert, who wants to become a plastic surgeon to help people become the best version of themselves possible.

“I feel like people — no matter who they are or what they think — deserve to be happy in their own body. Regardless of their reasoning, I want people to come to me and feel good about themselves,” Gilbert said.

With such a lofty goal, it’s a good thing Gilbert is taking advantage of the opportunities available to him to get as much experience as possible.  

“Stony Brook gives you so many resources to help you succeed and help you get out there, so if you’re already here I would say use them to your best ability,” Gilbert said. “There’s this internship, there’s this TA position, this fellowship, that can get you started and then that can lead to a promising future.”

— Joshua Pietzold ’18

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