Kimberly Ferry in the labKimberly Ferry in the lab. (Photo courtesy Kimberly Ferry)

Transferring excellence

April 14, 2020
This article appeared in Berkeley Engineer magazine, Spring 2020

Seventy percent of California’s community college students neither earn a two-year associate degree nor transfer to a four-year university after six years. In an effort to improve the transfer rate, a program called Transfer-to-Excellence Research Experiences for Undergraduates (TTE REU) offers California community college students an opportunity to work alongside Berkeley researchers.

For nine weeks every summer, 15 students join labs on campus to prepare themselves to transfer to a four-year university and ultimately complete a bachelor’s degree in science and engineering. In addition to research, the students receive advising services, participate in seminars and go on field trips that expose them to different opportunities in a variety of areas in engineering and science.

“In the six years that the TTE REU program has been running, we have achieved a 93 percent transfer rate to a four-year school to major in a STEM degree,” said Nicole McIntyre, associate director of education at the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S), which is headquartered at Berkeley Engineering.

She adds that the majority of these students have transferred to a University of California campus, and many choose to attend UC Berkeley.

“I did this program in 2017 before I transferred from community college, and I think this is one of the best things that I’ve done,” said Kimberly Ferry, now a fourth-year bioengineering major at Berkeley. “As a community college student, it’s hard to feel like you are in a real college. TTE helped me to feel like I belong here and that I can do this.”