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Student Profile: Eric King

Majors & Minors: Bachelor’s degree in Public Health (2016), current Graduate Student, Health Services
Previous institution: Seattle Central College
Year/Qtr transferred: Fall 2014
Hometown: Minneapolis
Favorite quote: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” ―Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!


What was the hardest part of transferring?
The size of the campus and the size of the classes was overwhelming. I thought it would be the coursework, but community college prepared me more than I thought. Isolation was also a big thing, especially being a minority and a man in a largely-female major. Another difficult aspect was determining which electives to take because of the myriad of options! It was a bit overwhelming and sometimes difficult when registering for classes.

The people that helped me get over that feeling of being overwhelmed were my UW research professor, who I met during community college, and Chanira Reang Sperry, my academic adviser. Once I got into the major, the advising staff in the department were also helpful; things got easier once I was in the major. 

What was something that surprised you in your transfer experience?
That my GPA went up after transferring. Hard science classes were hard, but for the most part the classes seemed fair and in-line with what I expected. I was also surprised by how much my interests broadened once I was a UW student. I attribute this to the breadth of disciplines available to UW students. I became less focused on the hard sciences and began to explore the social sciences. 

What do you miss about your previous school?
Mentors for sure. It was hard to find mentors at UW. It can seem like a lot of the faculty are heavily focused on research. As an undergrad, I missed professors wanting to get to know you and genuinely wanting you to succeed in their courses. I also miss the diversity in age range of students. As an older undergrad at UW, I was always the oldest one.

But I’m a vocal person, so in being more visible, that allowed me to connect with people, faculty and students with similar interests. That mostly came out of activism.

What resources were most helpful to you when you were preparing to transfer?
I was a Ready Set Transfer student, so did undergraduate research at my community college that was sponsored through UW. The Martin Family Foundation Scholarship community, Mona Pitre-Collins and Chanira Reang Sperry specifically, were great resources. I also connected with the School of Public Health undergraduate major advisers (Tory!) even before entering UW.


How did you select your undergraduate major? How did you select your graduate program?
I always had an interest in public health. Once I realized that was a major, I switched from Bio to Public Health. Public Health was looking at problems that hadn’t been solved, issues that needed solutions. Sciences seemed like memorizing things already known. I wanted to focus on problems without solutions. And I got to take classes in Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science that broadened my worldview and how I look at problems and people. The undergraduate degree was a great introduction and I knew that a graduate degree would allow me to delve deeper into problems and really master Public Health. The undergraduate degree also didn’t have a lot of exposure to policy; and I realized that policy influences everything so wanted to gain competency in that area.

What are your future plans?
Change the world!


How did you first learn about the Martin Scholarship program?
I happened to meet a Martin Family Foundation Board member who had received the scholarship as a student herself. She encouraged me to apply. I applied for the Martin Scholarship the first time and didn’t even get an interview. I went back for my final year at my community college, continued studying hard, got involved in research and reapplied the following year. I spent a lot of time on that second application.

What made you decide to apply?
Having not been selected the first time, it was hard to reapply. I thought about how little time I had really invested in that first application, and thought I could do better. I had actually been admitted to a school in Portland and was planning to go there, but then I got invited to the Martin interview.

The interview was my first time on the UW campus. I was taken aback by the buildings, the fountain, it was overwhelming. But then I walked into the interview and it was like being with family. Everyone was really nice. It felt more like a conversation than an interview.

What advice do you have for future transfer students considering applying?
Start your application early! Put effort into it. Have people read it and give you feedback. Think about why you want to pursue higher education, what you want out of it, your long term goals, and that should be reflected by your grades, but also your community and volunteer work. Reach out to other Martin Scholars for coffee, they’ll be glad to meet you.

What is beneficial to you about being part of the Martin Scholars community?
Free food! It’s a diverse group of students with different perspectives. You might only see them at the quarterly meetings, but at this large campus, it’s nice to have a community to be part of.