The University of Arizona Transfer Student Center provides opportunities for transfer students to build a community, get support and even attend field trips. Jessica Kapp, a faculty fellow for the TSC and geology professor, recently took transfer students on trip to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
Kapp volunteers by taking transfer students to do off-campus activities, and this will be her second year accompanying students to the Gem Show.
The first trip was successful, according to Kapp, and the students were impressed and fascinated by what the Gem Show had to offer. Due to the students' feedback, the TSC wanted to organize the trip again, said Daniel Viramontes, a graduate assistant at the Transfer Student Center.
Kapp is a geologist, so she teaches the students about the formation of minerals, how to differentiate between a gem and mineral and different types of fossils.
“It’s a great way for students to see the gem show, if they’ve never been, and get out on a Sunday afternoon and have some fun,” Kapp said. “[They can see] something that is a Tucson institution and then have someone who knows a little something about the geology as well to talk to them about what they’re seeing.”
She also talks to students about where minerals come from and answers any questions about geology that the students may have. Not only do students get a basic geology lesson, they will also be able to learn more about the history and culture of Tucson, Kapp said.
Kevin Padilla, a UA alumnus, went on the trip with Kapp last year and said he had a good time learning new facts about geology and meeting other transfer students. He enjoyed interacting with the gem and mineral vendors from different countries around the world and getting to ask them questions.
“Her extensive knowledge of geology really made this experience fun and engaging,” Padilla said. “She made sure everyone was having fun while learning something new.”
Kapp said she believes that learning about geology is important for everybody, because it increases people’s understanding of how the world works.
“It’s less important for them to know about minerals and rocks necessarily, but to have this basic appreciation for the Earth and how unique it is,” Kapp said. “When you walk outside and see a mountain, what does that mean? Why is that mountain there?”
The Gem Show trip is not the only opportunity transfer students have to go do an activity with a faculty fellow. The TSC has five faculty fellows, so there is a variety of interests for them to explore.
Since transfer students do not have the same experience as students who started out at the UA as a freshman, the TSC helps them adapt to UA life. This trip, along with others set up by the TSC, provides a way for the students to make more connections with each other and faculty while also gaining new knowledge, Kapp said.
As a faculty fellow, Kapp has also taken transfer students hiking on Mt. Lemmon, to the Desert Museum and to see shows on campus. She tries to do outdoor activities and find things to do that will be beneficial for them.
Kapp said she enjoys the gem show trip because she likes viewing the fossil exhibits with students. She said they are engrossing and explained that she can discuss many different topics with them, such as why fossils form and evolution.
The TSC is located on the fourth floor of the Student Union Memorial Center and is available to all transfer students. Whether students need to ask a question or just want to hang out and do homework, the TSC can give them a sense of community and help make adjusting to a new college easier.
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