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Aprill hanging out at UMD’s Kirby Lounge.

Aprill Emig transferred to the University of Minnesota Duluth in the Fall of 2013 after graduating from Anoka-Ramsey Community College with an AA in creative writing. She is a fifth year senior majoring in women’s studies and philosophy with a journalism minor.

When she’s not editing The Statesman (UMD’s student newspaper) or in class, she’s probably enjoying a quiet evening reading at home with her cat.

This is Aprill’s UMD transfer story.

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Two of Aprill’s favorite things: Her cat and her books.

“Just select women’s studies and journalism from the drop down menu and choose the classes you want,” the advisor told me as I started registering for my first semester at UMD.

“That’s it?” I asked, incredulous that it could be so straightforward.

“Yep. Let me know if you have any questions.”

I didn’t. Every class I signed up for was one I wanted to take. There were no “generals” in my roster, nothing that had me dreading the upcoming year. But my path to this point hadn’t been so clear-cut.

As a high school student, I skipped a lot of classes. This probably comes as a surprise to all the peers in my AP and honors courses, but is far less shocking to those who really knew me. Not only did I skip class, I never did homework – unless it was a paper or visual project. I passed by getting A’s on tests, figuring a C-average was better than nothing at all. The strangest thing of all, though, was that my ultimate dream was to go to college. Little did I know how much I was sabotaging that opportunity.

I graduated high school with a 2.8 GPA, which is pretty embarrassing to admit. It was March of my senior year when I realized I was supposed to have applied to college months prior. I had no idea.

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One of Aprill’s favorite books, written by Minnesota author Cheryl Strayed.

But I didn’t realize my classmates – the very students sitting next to me in AP English and honors biology – had a resource I didn’t: parents. The first semester of college was a stark wake-up call of just what it meant to be a first generation college student.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t suddenly become a star student the moment I stepped into my first community college class. I had to work full-time to support myself and stubbornly decided to go to college full-time, assuming it was a sign of “failure” if I didn’t. In retrospect I would have been much better off going to school part-time (working part-time wasn’t an option), but I was too determined.

I was put on academic advisory – meaning I had less than a 2.0 – for three consecutive semesters. I managed to graduate with my Associate’s degree in creative writing. Though I’ve continued to work and attend school full-time, it’s been much easier at UMD with all the on-campus jobs I’ve been able to secure.

I always dreamt of college – the knowledgeable professors, the books, the writing – but I always assumed my path would be traditional: graduate high school, go to a four-year university, live in the dorms, attend sporting events, join clubs. What took me a while to understand was that a non-traditional upbringing would lead to a non-traditional college path.

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Another personal favorite.

I transferred into UMD with my A.A., which made the process seamless. It was the first time I felt like I was taking myself seriously as a student and the first time I wasn’t ashamed of my path.

As a transfer student there have been a few opportunities I’ve missed. I’ve never lived on-campus and didn’t have time to do a lot of clubs (though most of my jobs are relevant to my future career plans). But I don’t think I would have taken college as seriously if I hadn’t witnessed the strength of my community-college peers. The working mothers balancing childcare, career, and class. The returning veterans trying to further their education. The young PSEO students getting ahead of the game, taking college classes in the only affordable way.

I didn’t know UMD is where I’d end up. I didn’t know I’d be finishing college at age 24. I never knew I’d be on the Dean’s List every semester at UMD. But I wouldn’t change my experience for anything, and I’m so happy to be here.

For more information about transferring to UMD, visit d.umn.edu/transfer.

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