After several years at Berkshire Community College (BCC), Jessica Russo '12 of Pittsfield decided to move on to a four-year university, but soon discovered that the state institution she transferred to was not a good fit. So, last January, she gave MCLA a try.
"I transferred to MCLA because I wanted to go to a state school. It was close to home and had a very close-knit community - similar to that of BCC - and I received a warm welcome," Russo said. "MCLA was the right school for me because it was small, affordable and close to home. Also, it has a lot to offer."
As both a transfer and a commuter student, she expected it might be a bit difficult to make friends.
"However, I was welcomed by many of my peers and it was easy to make friends. Since it is a very close community, you really have a chance to get to know everyone," she said. "It has been very easy to adapt at MCLA. It felt like home after a week."
While Russo says the best things about MCLA are her classes and professors, she feels grateful for the warm welcome she received upon her arrival to campus.
"It made my transfer process so much easier. Being at MCLA has been a very positive experience for me and I am very excited and eager to see where my MCLA career will go from here," she said.
Russo is majoring in political science and biology with a math minor, and maintains a high grade point average. While she still is deciding on a specific career path, she expects to go on to graduate school.
"I do well because I am very motivated, love to learn and have found my classes very interesting. My advice to other students is to do what you love because it is hard to be motivated to get your work done when you are uninterested in the subject," she said. "Also, do not to be afraid to ask questions and to get help when you need it."
Russo plans to take advantage of the many opportunities MCLA has to offer.
In April, she was selected as one of four students who traveled with political science and public policy professor Petra Hejnova to a conference of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago, Ill.
"It was a great experience and gave me a firsthand view of what it is like to be a political scientist," Russo said.
"I have not gotten too involved yet. I wanted to take this semester to get my feet wet. However, I have started working with Josh Tefft (in Admissions) to start a transfer student organization," she explained. And, "I plan to be at the undergraduate research conference next year and to travel abroad."