Posted 12:08 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

UWL transfer student Lee Xiong once doubted that a college degree was in her future. Then she overcame the odds at UWL. "One piece of advice I would give to other transfer students is to be open-minded and allow themselves to struggle through obstacles," she says.

Part 3 in a series of stories celebrating UWL transfer students

Transfer students are an integral part of the UW-La Crosse community.

They comprise nearly 13% of UWL’s student population, and bring with them a unique range of talents and experiences that enrich our entire university. 

During National Transfer Student Week (Oct. 19-23), UWL is celebrating these students by sharing their stories — their challenges, their achievements, their hopes for the future.

José Rubio-Zepeda, a transfer retention specialist at UWL, says the university’s strong contingent of transfer students is worth celebrating not just this week, but year-round.

“Transfer students have diverse student needs and identities, and it’s important to recruit them in order to build more pathways into earning a baccalaureate degree,” he says. “We must also celebrate them and their contributions, build empathy, and instill more transfer pride at UWL.”

This is the third and final installment in our sereis highlighting UWL transfer students.

UWL senior Lee Xiong

Major: Psychology
Hometown: Fresno, California
Previous college: University of California-Merced

Q: Why did you choose to transfer to UWL?
A: Prior to transferring to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, I knew nothing about the school. I chose to transfer to UWL because it was the closest to where I now live and has my major.

Q: Tell me about how you started in higher education.
A: I am originally from Thailand and saw that many people who live there do not have the opportunities to even attend school. When I moved to the United States, I was able to attend school. I began school at a third grade level as I began to learn the English language. While other students were able to read and write, I was still trying to understand the English alphabet. I still remember sitting separately with two other Hmong students and working with a Hmong interpreter every day because we did not know English well. I grew up seeing a lot of successful role models that included both men and women from different backgrounds. Learning about these individuals and their different backgrounds motivated me to go to college and earn a college degree. I knew I could not waste this opportunity. I push myself so that I can become successful and give back to my communities and my families.

Q: What advice do you have for transfer students?
A: One piece of advice I would give to other transfer students is to be open-minded and allow themselves to struggle through obstacles, particularly as they adjust to UWL, and to never give up.

Q: What advice would you give a first-year transfer student?
A: The advice I would give to a first-year transfer student is do not be scared to ask for help when you need it.

Q: What has surprised you here at UWL?
A: I’m surprised about the caring nature and support from faculty and staff. They’ve been willing and accommodating during my time here.

Q: Who has helped you or helped you in your transition to UWL?
A: Many people have helped me in my transition at UWL and enriched my experience, including professors, academic advisors, work supervisors and friends.

Q: What would you like to do with your degree after you graduate from UWL?
A: I would like to work at a non-profit organization and provide help/guidance and advocate for those in stressful situations or need somebody to talk to through challenges.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: I never thought I would be able to finish college, especially as a full-time mom, full-time student, and working part-time. Here I am, though! I’m near the finish line in earning my B.A. in psychology!