Rajendra Roopchan says finding someone to talk to is more important to a college student than finding someone who has all the answers.
“Having a person or a community to suggest, ‘You can do this’ or ‘These are your options’ is a phenomenal resource to have.”
While the senior completes his degree in social work from UNC Greensboro’s School of Health and Human Sciences, he’s fulfilling that need for other students through the Transfer2Transfer peer-to-peer program. It connects new transfer students to share their stories and knowledge on adapting to a different institution.
Roopchan says, “I wish at certain points in my life, I’d had someone who said, ‘Have you tried this?’ People may not know what they want, but they know where they’re trying to go.Having someone point you in the right direction is extremely important.”
Roopchan currently mentors five UNCG students, talking to them via email, text, video chat, or face-to-face. “I try to be respectful of everybody’s schedule.”
He answers their questions about campus, classes, registration, how to find and apply for scholarships, and where they can find resources to support their mental health.
A voice of guidance
One of his mentees, Ronnay Plush-Williams, knows a lot about the challenges of scheduling. The mother of two moved to North Carolina from New Jersey. Now she’s taking online courses to get her degree in business administration, working toward her dream of running a daycare business.
Trina Gabriel, assistant director of transfer initiatives with the Division of Student Success, invited her to join Transfer2Transfer.
“I thought, ‘why not,’ since I didn’t know anything about North Carolina,” says Plush-Williams. “We talk about work, school, our lives, what do we want to do after school. Because he’s a senior, I asked him about being a senior and what you plan to do after that. He asked me how I’ve adjusted.”
Their conversations about adjustment extend beyond college life, as she lives off-campus. “He sends me directions and tells me who to contact for things I need to do.”
Building a sense of belonging
Roopchan learned about regiment, structure, and teamwork in the Army, but going to college was a new and different adventure. As a first-generation college student, his expectations about higher education mainly came from his wife’s experiences and the media.
He enrolled at Forsyth Technical Community College and then transferred to UNCG in 2021.
Coming out of deployment overseas and full-time work, Roopchan’s priorities were to complete college and get good grades, then one day work in community development or program evaluation. But quickly, he recognized that this was an opportunity to build a social network that would lead to future opportunities.
“There are many stories of veterans transitioning out of the military and either flourishing or face-planting,” he says. “I didn’t want to be that person who had a great military career, then went into the ‘real world’ and failed. It’s a motivating factor to stay focused.”
Roopchan’s advice to any student coming to UNCG: know who to talk to about forming a schedule and get to know the head of the department.
“A lot of times, students who have problems with registering go to general advisors. But if you go to the head of the department, most of the time they can point you where to go.”
“People take the phrase, ‘You’re an adult now’ way too seriously,” he says. “Even as an adult, you still need guidance.”
Story by Janet Imrick, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Rajendra Roopchan, UNC Greensboro
Start your adventure. Discover UNCG’s campus.