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Jump Right In 

Pat Gareau is making the most of his UAlbany experience. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 1, 2017) – Patrick Gareau has a philosophy that has worked for him as a transfer student since joining UAlbany in the fall of 2015.

“I fully embraced from the beginning being a UAlbany student who as a transfer student is no different from any other,” said Gareau, director of Community Engagement Outreach for the Student Association.

He added that it’s important to get over any misconception that you are less than any other part of the UAlbany community. “If you take the steps to get involved and be part of the community, you’ll be successful,” Gareau said.

A native of Guilderland, he first graduated from Hudson Valley Community College. UAlbany was the only school he applied to.

“I grew up around here, my family is here and I want to make my career in the Albany area,” he said.

Right after graduating from HVCC, he applied for cabinet-level executive positions with the SUNY-wide Student Assembly, and was appointed director of Academic Affairs and chair of the Community Colleges Committee. He was also elected as treasurer in spring 2016 of the SUNY Student Assembly. This is an executive board position.

At UAlbany, he became a double major in psychology and economics. He has a wide range of interests, including government, policy and education. “These two majors give me flexibility and a wide-ranging skill set I can apply to a lot of different fields,” Gareau said.

Once at UAlbany, he jumped right in and was elected to a seat on the Student Association Senate. UAlbany gives him proximity to his family, and it’s just a short trip downtown to meet with state legislators and SUNY officials for advocacy.

An HVCC internship at the Center for Economic Growth taught him the importance of networking with the community. That experience led him to start his own business in May 2016 as an economic development consultant. After graduation from UAlbany, his dream is to build up his business. “Working for myself and trying to build my own company is Plan A for me,” he said.

Here are Gareau’s tips to help transfer students make a smooth transition to UAlbany:

1. Plan your academics: Having to squeeze in major requirements in shorter period of time can be hard, so understand fully what classes you need and when you’ll need them.

2. Get involved as soon as you can: Joining campus organizations leads to more success for everyone, but is especially important for transfer students trying to become engaged in a new environment.

3. Learn the university resources early: The library, financial aid office, registrar, dining areas, counseling services, career services, and many other important campus offices are there to help.

4. Make friends in class: Having someone to study with, share notes from a missed class, and work on assignments in your classes is invaluable.

5. Seek faculty and staff mentors: There are a lot of talented professionals on campus who are eager to help students be successful.

6. Spin the wheel sometimes: Taking chances can often pay off more than you imagine. Run for leadership positions, take a challenging class, do something that seems risky but may result in wild success.

7. Be a full-fledged Great Dane: Transfer students are UAlbany students just as much as those that have been here since they were freshman. Embrace the Great Dane identity and don’t stress over any feeling that you belong less as a transfer student. But also …

8. Leverage your prior experience: Transfer students have a different perspective than those who have been at UAlbany for all of their college years, which should be seen as an advantage.

9. Look for opportunities off campus: Few things are more transformative than getting an internship or being a regular volunteer at a local organization.

10. Go out: Having a fun social life is an important part of college.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.