Welcome TO THE CSU!

A new academic year is underway. See what those first days were like for a few of the thousands of first-year and transfer students who just arrived at a California State University campus.


There's always excitement in the air at the beginning of an academic year. Campuses are bustling as classes start and a new round of adventures awaits. It's an especially memorable time for first-time students who are completely new to college as well as for transfer students transitioning to the next chapter in their education. While a few nerves are to be expected, nothing can diminish the enthusiasm that comes with the chance to pursue a quality education that will open the door to endless opportunities.

We asked first-time and transfer students from a dozen campuses to document a memorable moment during their first days at the California State University.

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“Walking onto campus, knowing I was leaving my family behind, was a tough challenge to overcome. From the time I can first remember, my family has been there for me, pushing me to get to this point. Here I stand with my parents and sister, the biggest influences in my life who sacrificed everything to make sure I got to this point, for one last picture before I am an official college student. There were a few tears shed as we hugged and said goodbye as I walked into my new journey in life."

Courtland Briggs, first-year student, CSU Channel Islands, political science

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“My most memorable experience when I first arrived was meeting the people on campus. They're really accepting and even though it's a transition, it's a really good transition!"

Suvachira Tilakamonkul, first-year student, Cal Maritime, global studies and maritime affairs

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“Cal State East Bay has made every effort to make me feel at home on campus and showered me with opportunities to get engaged on campus in the months and weeks leading up to my first day of classes. After attending not only Transfer Orientation but also Transfer Academy—a weeklong series of workshops and panels geared toward preparing incoming students for their time at East Bay—I felt more than ready to dive into my classes on August 20. Thanks to the support I'd already gotten, I was able to help Saleh Miro [pictured to the left of Santiago] on his first day. CSUEB has cultivated an environment where students organically rise together and coming here has made me more excited about going to school than I've ever been before."

— Santiago Buada, junior transfer, Cal State East Bay, business administration

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“My first week was a little intimidating because it was a new school. One of my favorite classes is advanced organic chemistry, because that's my field. I chose Cal State LA because I was accepted into the MARC-U*Star [Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research] program. I'm working with Dr. Linda Gutierrez-Tunstad and she's preparing me for my Ph.D.—how to do the proper research, looking for papers, reading publications, writing a thesis to present. I don't even think I'm going to take a break after I graduate from Cal State LA; I'm going to go straight into a Ph.D. program. I wouldn't have that opportunity if I didn't come here."

— Carlos Cruz, junior transfer, Cal State LA, chemistry

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“At orientation I received the Spartan East Side Promise Scholarship as a surprise. My parents knew. On the way to school, my mom made a comment in the car asking me, 'Why did you bring those jeans?' and I told her, 'Everyone is going to be wearing their everyday clothes.' I suspected something, but I never knew it was going to be a scholarship."

Azusena Reyes, first-year student, San José State, undeclared

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“I came to school super early and very scared today! The first thing that came to my mind as I was walking onto the campus of CSUSM was, I never thought I would be here. Then, as I walked further, I was met immediately with a flapping banner reading, ​'I LOVE CSUSM.' I continued nervously onward and all I saw were happy people smiling. I found my way to my first class and the professor was laughing and talking with students. At that moment, I felt a sense of relief knowing I'd found my new home at CSUSM for the next four years."

Yasmin Ortiz (pictured at left, with fellow CSU San Marcos student Janelle Esprit), first-year student, undeclared

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“The first week of school brought a lot of opportunities. The 'Welcome Week' activities gave us the ability to talk to our fellow peers, Greek booths allowed us to explore options for community service and the new curriculum will allow for us to expand our already growing knowledge."

— Krishan Malhotra, first-year student, Stanislaus State, business administration

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“On my first day of school, I felt very welcomed and at home going to class. I wasn't nervous to start something new, but I looked forward to making new friends and having new experiences. After classes, the track team went out for a workout in the hills and when we finished, everyone was super sweaty since it was 104 degrees out. We all hopped into the creek nearby and that is what stood out to me the most: relaxing with the track team in the creek."

— Ian Hackett, first-year student, Chico State, undeclared

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“Coming from a high school graduating class with a mere 86 students, going to school with more than 30,000 other students was a daunting thought. The first night, my roommate and I sat outside our dorm and introduced ourselves to everyone who walked by. We ended up meeting a group of girls who we immediately clicked with. Although we've only been friends for a week-and-a-half now, it feels like we've known each other for a long time."

— Nick Agtual, first-year student, San Diego State, mechanical engineering​

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“The most meaningful event of my first day at Sonoma State was 'Big Nite.' After attending the event with my roommate and seeing all the booths and tables regarding clubs and Greek life, it made me aware of how many open opportunities Sonoma State has in store for all their students. It doesn't matter the different interests a student could have, everyone is guaranteed to find something that fits their interests, whether it be a sorority or club. This photo shows how welcoming and inviting Sonoma State truly is."

— Sophia Mendoza (pictured to the left of Lobo the Seawolf), first-year student, Sonoma State, women and gender studies

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“This picture represents the opportunity to go to Cal State East Bay and to get to see an iconic view while there. This view gets me thinking and relaxes me throughout the day. Being a Hayward native is awesome, and getting to go to school in Hayward sets an example. It's an opportunity to realize how great this city is."

— Albert Del Castillo Jr., first-year student, Cal State East Bay, business

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“My first day at Humboldt State University was, as I expected, both hectic and exciting! One of the most difficult tasks to be completed since then was, surprisingly, structuring my bedroom decorations. I have been a lover of animals and the natural world since I was a child and though it was far from easy properly arranging all of my animal/nature-related objects around my bedroom, it was worth it. It expresses the person I am when I walk into my bedroom and makes me smile as I see everything staring back at me. Just simply organizing my room gives me satisfaction and relief, but when I can top it off with things that underline my values, it results in a seemingly small yet comforting accomplishment."

— August Andrews, junior transfer, Humboldt State, environmental studies

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“I didn't talk to anyone in my classes all that much, so I was excited to have met my friend, Kellison [pictured at left​]. It was such a brand-new experience after high school that I soon grew to love. Not only are there a lot more options to choose from, but more opportunities that come alongside that. As I build more connections in the communities I'll soon be a part of, I'm confident that those factors, along with studying and a good work ethic, will help me be successful in the path I choose to take."

— Patricia Paredes, first-year student, Sacramento State, business

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“I love learning, and I was told that college was gonna change my life. However, as prepared as I was for the first day, I went to the wrong class. I was frustrated for a little while, especially since it is an EOP [Educational Opportunity Program] course link, but my computer-assisted art class once again brightened my mood. After that, I went to University 101. It was nice being in a class with other EOP students, especially the ones I hadn’t seen since Summer Bridge. Being in a classroom full of people with similar backgrounds as me​ helped me feel more grounded during this new experience. Getting the semester off on a fairly good start now has me motivated to do great things while I am here in Chico."

— Egypt Hubbard, first-year student, Chico State, computer animation and game development