How APU shaped my character after transferring from community college.

In January of last year, I transferred from Citrus College to APU. It was a milestone in my academic career since I was transitioning from community college to a university.

After searching for months for a university to transfer to, I made the decision in mid-2021 that I would transfer to APU. Not only was it convenient because it’s directly next to Citrus but also because APU’s values align with mine.

Castillo on her first day at Citrus College. (Photo Courtesy of Natalie Castillo)

My Christian faith is the most important thing to me, and that is the foundation of APU. My values aligned with APU’s, and I knew it would be the best choice to transfer there. It’s like it was a perfect match.

Also, APU is a small university with a tight-knit community, and that was something I was looking for. When I first started at APU in the spring semester last year, I didn’t know anyone, but now, I feel like I’m part of a community.

I have come to realize that the Christ-centered community at APU has shaped my character for the better, and I’m part of a family now. I’ve made unforgettable memories on campus with friends and professors who have touched my life by showing me the love of Christ. 

I’ve developed meaningful connections and relationships with staff and professors like professor Musa and professor Alvarado, who have shown they care about not only my academic performance but also my well-being. 

I have also formed friendships with other students that I now consider to be family. Being around a caring and thoughtful group of people has helped me to feel seen and like I belong. The friends I’ve met here, like Jissel Ibarra and Morgan Faranov, pray for me and uplift me.

Last semester I joined ZU Media, which has made me feel more at home at APU. I made connections with other student reporters who share the same passion for journalism and storytelling. 

Natalie (right) and Morgan Faranov (left) met after Natalie transferred to APU. (Photo Courtesy of Natalie Castillo)

My faith has also grown since I started at APU. The tight-knit Christian community provides a unique and encouraging experience. Professors ask if you have prayer requests and pray over the class. Worship music plays in the trolley, and the trolley driver Jeff greets everyone with a warm smile. 

It’s a college experience you don’t get anywhere else. Each semester becomes more meaningful as I meet more students and staff from different departments. I started working at The Grill this semester, and now I know people at each dining venue on campus.

The work environment at The Grill is busy and fun. The cooks and my co-workers crack jokes with each other and make the shift enjoyable. 

Even though I started working there a month ago, it feels as if I’ve been working there longer since everyone there is welcoming and kind. I’m starting to feel a sense of home there, especially since, during my shifts, a few of my friends visit me, which makes the shift more fun. 

I used to think that, since I transferred, the overall college experience at APU wouldn’t be the same as compared to somebody who was at APU for four years instead of two. Now, two and a half semesters later, I realize that’s not true. 

So far, I have had a more enjoyable experience at APU than I initially expected. I’m now in my senior year at APU, and I’m cherishing each day that passes. I know that my last year here is going to fly by. 

It’s bittersweet that it is my last year because I grew to love APU, and I consider it my second home. I’ve met so many kind souls throughout the school, and I wish I had more time here.

It’s been a blessed year and a half so far, and I’m looking forward to a fruitful senior year ahead. I know I’ll make more unforgettable memories throughout the year with the APU community. 

After transferring from Citrus to APU, I felt the difference in the community compared to Citrus.

People at APU are nice and easy to become friends with. At Citrus people seemed more closed off and less approachable.

The overall community at APU is warm and inviting and made me feel welcomed when I initially transferred. From professors to co-workers to management at The Grill, everyone is friendly. 

My experience at APU has been everything and more than I imagined it would be. I’m grateful for how the community has shaped my character for the better, and I’m looking forward to what else APU has in store for my senior year.