There’s no demographic data that can tell you how many Iowa State University undergraduates have taken a summer job detasseling corn, but there’s a good chance around 2,000 of them can’t even tell you what that is.
While the vast majority of Iowa State undergraduates hail from Iowa itself or a state that borders it, a small percentage are neither Midwesterners nor international students: they’re the ones from states with dozens of options for a quality in-state education who, to the often questionable delight of locals, ended up here.
Shance Bagos Taylor, a senior in architecture, transferred to Iowa State from Cal Poly Pomona after only a year, leaving his home state of California behind.
“I traveled away from California to put myself outside of my comfort zone and see what it would be like to live halfway across the country and so far away from my family,” Bagos Taylor said.
Nationally, Iowa State owns a respectable No. 111 ranking from U.S. News & World Report. Highlighting the university’s penchant for success, Bagos Taylor’s architecture program was recently ranked No. 20 by DesignIntelligence, a bimonthly design publication.
“I wanted to find a good out-of-state architecture program,” he said. “ISU happened to fulfill both criteria.”
On the other hand, sophomore Kyra Rojas – a Texan majoring in marketing and Spanish – was already familiar with Ames from visiting family in the area growing up. When she started looking at colleges, she was concerned that staying in Texas meant she’d have to choose between majoring in marketing or Spanish.
Iowa State’s Languages & Cultures for Professions program, which Rojas had never heard of until she got to Iowa State, allows her to study both in a unique environment.
“This program allows me to integrate my passion for languages and my marketing skills without having to take as many credit hours as double majoring requires,” Rojas said.
Of course, even if a student’s perfect-match program happens to be in Iowa, that doesn’t mean the transition that comes with moving to the Midwest is as straightforward.
Coming from such large states, it’s expected that students like Rojas and Bagos Taylor would experience a miniature culture shock at first. Both said that Iowa is very different from their homes, from the famous “Iowa nice” personality to the way Iowans talk.
“[One thing] I first noticed was that people here seemed nicer than in California,” Bagos Taylor said. “At this point, it’s normal.”
“Sometimes it’s overwhelming, mainly in the way everyone speaks,” Rojas said. “People here definitely have that Midwest accent. My friends back in Texas tease me for [accidentally acquiring it myself].
“But then my friends here tease me for saying ‘y’all.’ I can’t catch a break.”
In spite of the changes – and an admission that he can’t wait to move back to California after graduation – Bagos Taylor believes his decision was for the best.
“I’ve learned through architecture, studying abroad and trips with friends that I love traveling and adventuring around the world,” he said. “That is something I am planning to do in my future.”
Rojas agreed, explaining that while it was scary at first, moving more than 700 miles away from her hometown contributed to her maturity and independence.
“Being so far from my parents isn’t the easiest, but I’m really glad I’m here now,” she said.