Her first year after high school graduation, Katie Tapper remained in her hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, to complete basic college courses. She transferred to Northland College this past fall and promptly met Michaela Jurewicz, a transfer from Hope College in Michigan. Needless to say, they became fast friends.
How did the two of you meet?
Michaela: The first day of our Outdoor Orientation trip, we needed to find canoe buddies. Everyone was awkwardly standing around, not making eye contact with anyone else. Katie and I looked at each other across the group, nodded, and that was that! We were canoe buddies quickly turned friends.
Katie: One interesting fact I learned about Michaela was she had kissed a giraffe. We became close during the duration of our trip and talked about the dogsledding with Julie Buckles and planned to do it together.
Why did you decide to transfer? And why Northland?
Katie: I transferred to Northland for the field experience that most classes have as well as access to many environmental science courses and the small class sizes. The idea of not being just another name in a 200+ people class was very appealing.
Michaela: I was losing momentum at Hope. None of the classes were holding my interest and it felt like no one cared about any of the same things I cared about. I was looking for someone who treated the environment as something important in every decision and not just when it was convenient. Frustrated and planning on dropping out of school, I took one last semester studying abroad in Iceland. While there I met two current Northland students who convinced me to transfer and stay in school.
What was the transfer experience like?
Michaela: I emailed the transfer coordinator while I was still in Iceland and I was officially accepted and enrolled for the fall by the time I left.
Katie: I had no problems even though I was 922 miles away and we were communicating over the phone and through email.
What are you studying now? Any changes to your game plan?
Katie: I plan on double majoring in biology and natural resources with an emphasis on fisheries and wildlife and I plan on going into wildlife conservation and animal behavior. Or possibly working with endangered species. A part of me wants to combine photography with science and document endangered species in the wild.
Michaela: I am majoring in chemistry which is what I went to school for the first time. I’ve changed my plans and my major so many times, it’s hard to keep track! But I started with chemistry and I am happy to say I am ending with chemistry.
How did the dogsledding pan out?
Michaela: When I was seven years old, a family friend of ours spent a full year in Alaska and the thing he talked about most when returning was his dog team. I became obsessed with it. When I transferred to Northland, I saw Julie’s internship and all the memories of Little Michaela fantasizing about mushing came flooding back so I emailed Julie right away. On the O-O trip, Katie said something about wanting to work with animals and we started talking about the internship. I am thrilled I get to share all of the experiences with her!
Katie: Our shared love for the dogs and the people gives us an awesome shared life experience that we continue to expand on together. I wouldn’t trade my time with the Michaela and the dogs for anything. It has made Wisconsin my home.
Katie: Moving so far away from home was hard but having my O-O group has made it so easy. Being active on the weekend and on campus has really made Wisconsin feel like home and I miss it when I go to my actual home. Having a core group of friends for the start of the school year is a gift to incoming students, transfer or not. Overall being a transfer student didn’t make me feel ostracized and it almost feels like I’ve been going here the whole time instead of starting somewhere else. I’m so happy that I found Northland.
Michaela: I’ve only been here one school year, but I already feel at home. I love the people, the area, and the on- and off-campus activities so much. It’s hard to remember what I did for fun at my other school. It’s such a close and yet still welcoming community—something that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world.