Hiking around Gooseberry Falls State Park: One of Jessica’s favorite off-campus activities.

Jessica Goertzen transferred to UMD during Spring semester, 2013. She’s originally from Shoreview, MN, in the northeast Twin Cities suburbs and went to Irondale High School in New Brighton, MN.

She’s in her senior year at UMD, pursuing a Psychology degree with a minor in Early Childhood Studies.

As UMD’s October 15th priority application deadline nears, we wanted to share Jessica’s story of what it was like to transfer mid-year. 



Favorite Dessert place: Portland Malt Shoppe!

I transferred to the University of Minnesota Duluth during spring semester of 2013.

Yup, you read that right: I spent one brief semester at another 4-year university before I realized UMD was a much better fit for me.

The biggest pull to UMD for me? There are SO many opportunities and activities both on and off campus.

Which is exactly what I wanted.

I’d actually visited UMD during my senior year of high school. After my visit, I just couldn’t shake the thought that Duluth was the place for me to be. How many colleges are located in cities that are RIGHT next to a HUGE lake like Lake Superior…along with having a vibrant city life, a place like Canal Park, or the amazing restaurants like what’s along Superior Street? Duluth also appealed even more to me due to the vast amount of hiking trails, scenery, and unique coffee shops and stores.

As far as coming to UMD: Transferring during the spring was unique; as most transfer students come in the fall. And unlike at the beginning of fall semester at most universities (where there’s a huge welcome and people to guide you through the first week) spring semester is FAR different. I had to pretty much find things out on my own: My classrooms, what to eat (and not to eat) at the Dining Center, and how to get involved. There was no spring semester program for transfer students, so I was forced to learn everything on my own. Little did I know, this actually helped me become more independent and outgoing. My first semester was filled with a lot of adjustments, so I mainly focused on my classes.

Jessica loves to walk around and take pictures of the beautiful scenery here in Duluth.

My sophomore year is when I really started to get involved. I became a member of Psychology Club, Colleges Against Cancer, SERVE (UMD’s volunteer club), and was a Teaching Assistant for Interpersonal Communication. I kept busy and started making life-long friends.

During my junior year I became the Treasurer of SERVE, a Teaching Assistant for Health Communication and a mentor for Students in Transition (SIT) through the new program called Peer 2 Peer (P2P). This program allowed me to help transfer students that were in the same position as I was my freshman year.

Now in my senior year, I continue to mentor transfer students through P2P, I’m a member of Mortar Board (Honors Society), as well as being an Academic Advisor in the Psychology Department in the College of Education and Human Service Professions (CEHSP).

Best way to de-stress and re-energize: walk through Bagley Nature Area in between classes.

In my opinion, all of UMD’s clubs, organizations, and programs continue to improve each year as new leaders and ideas come in. I think the most transformed program/office is the Students in Transition office and the creation of the P2P program. Even in the past three years, SIT has gone from not having mentors for transfer students, to having a year-round program solely focused on helping any transfer student that wants to utilize this support system.

Overall, I really enjoy helping those who need it. And I feel like UMD has really helped me in finding out that’s what I want to do.

On the tracks along Duluth Lakewalk.

I’m now well l into my senior year and I can honestly say it’s bittersweet. I’ve somehow managed to squeeze all of my credits in three and a half years and will be leaving Duluth in December. I plan on pursuing my passion for helping others by becoming a Child Life Specialist (CLS). I learned about the CLS profession through my Psychology Professions class, which detailed various professions for psych majors, and Child Life Specialist immediately stuck out.

After researching a bit more on what a CLS does, I knew it is what I wanted to do.

I love working with children and have always had a passion for helping people through challenging times. Although being a CLS may come with challenges, I believe it will be one of the most rewarding careers I could’ve chosen.

Beautiful Duluth sunset!

As I start to complete my “lasts” of everything in my undergraduate career, I can smile as I reflect on the choice I made to transfer to UMD. There have been challenges, but none that I regret because it has made me who I am today.

I’m excited for what the rest of this semester holds and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter in my life holds for me as a UMD alumni.

I can truly see myself living in Duluth long term, and never getting bored.