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Transfer Spotlight: Nina Mesihovic

Major: Geography
Previous Institution: Seattle Central College
Year and quarter transferred: Winter 2016

When Nina transferred into UW, she had already made the decision to major in Geography. She excelled in her coursework in the Department of Geography and beyond throughout her first year. Additionally, Nina pursued her strong desire to go on one of the university’s many study abroad programs, deciding on OMAD’s summer program in Tahiti, a month-long program that examines the island’s colonial legacy and present-day issues of inequality.

Her academic excellence during her first year made her eligible for Geography’s yearlong honors program, an intensive three-quarter sequence of developing and carrying out an in-depth research project and writing an honors thesis. Nina’s experiences in Tahiti raised many unanswered questions, which ultimately served as the foundation of her honors project. Her research delves into the complicated nature and effects of the island nation’s tourist-based economy, noting the stark differences between the beautiful postcard images of Tahiti versus the harsher realities that many of the island’s residents face in their day-to-day lives. More specifically, Nina uses qualitative research methods to better understand the relationship between immigration and environmental issues on the island.     

Nina has won multiple competitive scholarship awards from UW, including a Merit Scholarship from the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMAD) and the Mary Gates Research Scholarship through the Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity. She also serves as an officer for the Relational Poverty Network, a registered student organization (RSO) currently working to better integrate the concepts of relational poverty and inequality into the UW curriculum.

What was the hardest part of transferring? The hardest part for me was worrying that everyone would be much younger than me, that I wouldn’t have any peers in my age group, and that I would leave college with no friends. None of that was true. There were plenty of people of all ages and I connected and became friends with many, regardless of age. The Geography Department was especially a good place to foster such relationships.

What was something that surprised you in your transfer experience?
 In the community college I felt like I was on my own. Even though there were advisors, I didn't know about them. I felt like I had to do everything myself. Transferring to the UW changed that. I immediately felt like a part of a family; there was always someone checking on me, from OMAD, from the Department of Geography, and from the university-at-large, offering help or just the encouragement. The feeling of belonging definitely made me a better student. 

What resources were most helpful to you when you were preparing to transfer? I went to Transfer Thursday. It provided me with all the information I needed. I also contacted a recent graduate and she connected me with her advisor, Raul, in OMAD. He encouraged me to pursue a study abroad, to apply for scholarships, and get involved with different things on campus.

How did you go about planning your study abroad experience? Actually it was not the easiest thing for me. As a permanent resident without a passport I had to go through the hurdle of obtaining an official Travel Document (not a passport) through USCIS and then a visa for France (I went to Tahiti which is considered a French territory). While juggling all of that, I applied for study abroad scholarships and did a lot of research on my own. I wanted to know about their cell phone connections, what kind of electrical outlets they use, what is the exchange rate for the currency, but I also read a lot about the island’s culture and geography. I planned my packing list months in advance and I wanted to make sure my experience ended up untarnished by anything I could have prevented. It was an amazing experience and I recommend it to all! 

What advice do you have for future transfer students considering study abroad? Plan ahead, know more than required, apply for scholarships, allocate the spending money and have an open heart and mind. Without an open mind you will not allow yourself to experience it all.