Chelsea Harrup

by Martha Graham


SUMMARY: Chelsea Harrup is a transfer student from Northern Virginia Community College. Harrup transferred to JMU from NVCC at the beginning of the spring 2015 semester. Just six months later, she found herself in a leadership role as the newly appointed co-chair of an initiative for Transfer Student Peer Advising at the JMU College of Education. Harrup says it has been a whirlwind experience for her from the moment she stepped onto campus.

Why JMU?

I never really thought I would go to school because I was really ill in high school. I went to an online school to finish my high school degree. After that I thought, ‘No one’s going to take me.’ I knew I wasn’t healthy enough and I didn’t have enough money.

The hotel where I worked had a program that would pay for part of your college, but it was only for financial management. I looked into that and it made me realize I can actually do this part time. It wasn’t as crazy expensive as I imagined. 

I started with just a few classes at a local community college and I got more and more sucked in. Then I went for it. I transferred to JMU and it’s a journey I’ve been loving.

Why education?

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a little kid that’s all I wanted to do. And after high school, I couldn’t afford it, so I said, ‘I’ll find other things to do.’ In addition to working at the hotel, I was a full-time nanny for two kids, one who had a physical disability and emotional disabilities. Something clicked. How did I not notice that special education was the route I wanted to go? I’ve always wanted to work with younger kids. Now I’m sure.

I’m majoring in inclusive early childhood education, which is special education from birth to age 5 and pre-K to third grade—a dual licensure. When I finish my undergraduate degree, I’ll work on my master’s. I’m interested in the applied behavioral analysis program because I would love to work with kids who have special needs and behavioral issues.

What are some things you’ve been doing since transferring to JMU?

I’m the chair of the transfer student advising office through the college of education. We started it last year through Dr. Ruthy Bosch. There are four of us. We’re in there for a few hours every week and we go to the transfer orientations. We’re a support system for any transfer students in the COE.

How’s it been working out so far?

The thing that I love is that I every JMU professor I have had cares. They genuinely care! [At other places] the professors don’t know your name. They know what they’re teaching, but they don’t know you. Dr. Ruthy is the whole reason I got a scholarship, the whole reason I’m doing the transfer student advising office—all of these things—it’s all because of her. She was interested in what was going on with me and went out of her way to introduce me to people.

What’s your best advice for transfer students?

Ask questions, even if you think they’re dumb. The first three months I was here, I never rode the bus system because I didn’t understand how it worked and I felt like I was going to be perceived as ignorant for not knowing. I didn’t know: Did they need to see my id? Did it cost money? All the little things, and the JMU  lingo—I had no idea. I’d just sit there. Just those little things you don’t realize, and so you don’t even know to ask. So ask! Everybody at JMU is willing to help.

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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