The best year can be the first year

Several incoming students who may have felt lost, nervous and afraid as they entered their first year of College were given a tour of Pierce College campus and classes that were offered through the First Year Experience program (FYE).

Judy Lam, First Year Experience Counselor who is behind this program can empathize with incoming students as she starts her first year at Pierce. 

“When I went through college I was really confused,” Lam said. “It took me a really long time to figure out what I wanted to do, I switched my major, I just really wanted to come back and help students figure out college is where you belong, I can help you figure out what to do with your life.”

Sunday Salter, Transfer Counselor said that the FYE  program allows new students to get correct information.

“It is important because we have always done a terrible job of on boarding new students.” Salter said “So we created the first year experience center to be a way to bring students in properly, to have them connect with a counselor and the resources they need so that they know what steps to take next.”

Despite being new to the job, Lam is looking forward to applying her formal training to give students the best possible advice.

“My Undergraduate degree was in linguistics and psychology from UCLA,” Lam said. “I got my Master’s degree in counseling from CSUN it had an emphasis in college counseling, student services, and also career education and counseling.” 

Salter believes that Lam has a well rounded background that will help her as a FYE counselor. 

“What she has that is unique is that her other jobs have always been over here in the transfer center. So she has a lot of knowledge about what the long term plan needs to look like for students to meet their goal if it’s transfer.” said Salter. 

Computer Science Freshman, Kamaal Walker, has taken advantage of FYE service and shares his experience.

“It feels like a privilege,” he said. “They really helped me get through everything I needed to know and understand being a first-year student.”

During her time earning her undergraduate and master’s degrees at UCLA and CSUN, Lam found Pierce College to be the right fit for her.

“I just really love the community college population,” Lam said. “Here at the community college I can get students from all walks of life, I get it all here and I like being able to help a variety of people.”

Salter said that she is excited for Lam’s new role at Pierce College and will do a great job in counseling students. 

“She’s a really good fit over there and we’re excited. We miss her in the transfer center, she was an amazing, huge part of what we do over here.” Salter said “We’re really happy for her that she has a full time position there now and that she’ll be setting the students up properly for the transfer path.” 

Lam looks back on her meetings with counselors during her college days to influence her approach as an FYE counselor.

“The counselor asked me questions that I didn’t know the answer to, and I got really intimidated, I more or less never went back again,” Lam said. “I’m here for our first-year students to create a space where that doesn’t happen. I want to make sure that when they come to see me, they feel comfortable to ask me questions. Don’t feel bad taking up my time, that’s what I’m here for.”

All students with less than 24 completed units are welcome to set appointments with FYE counselors.