“A new student coming second semester is like trying to get on the airplane after it has already taken off,” said Dr. Jeff Heath, BJU’s director of Enrollment Planning.

Impossible, right? Yet right now 56 students from 19 states and five different countries are proving that it’s possible.

Meet one new student, Helen Lei, a sophomore nursing major from Shanghai, China. Back home Lei already graduated from college with a nursing degree and worked at a hospital in Shanghai for a year.

Now meet Hannah Tompkins, a freshman from Virginia. She is also new this semester and is majoring in special education. Next semester she will join the Bruins women’s basketball team.

So why did Lei and Tompkins transfer to BJU?

According to Lei, she transferred to BJU to further her education in nursing because the medical field in China is not as advanced. After graduation she wishes to return to China and help her father, who is poor in health.

Tompkins said she transferred from a university in Texas in order to be closer to her family.

The main reason, though, that both Lei and Tompkins chose BJU was because of the strong Christian atmosphere. Specifically, Lei wants to learn more about God and strengthen her faith so that she can be a strong testimony when she returns to China.

Dr. Heath’s department oversees that new students, like Lei and Tompkins, acclimate to life on campus. Part of his job is to ensure that BJU pays attention to their needs as newly arrived students.

According to Dr. Heath, the freshman seminar coach and orientation meetings are keys to helping new students adjust to life at BJU. New students are encouraged to reach out and stop anyone on the sidewalk to ask a question.

But on the flip side, Dr. Heath said he hopes the rest of the student body reaches out to the new students as well, putting themselves in their shoes and remembering what it is like to be new in an unfamiliar place.

He encouraged the student body to be available to answer questions for new students. Perhaps even go to a ball game or eat a meal with them. “Good hospitality things,” Dr. Heath said.

Both Lei and Tompkins said the students they’ve talked to have been extremely helpful and nice to point them in the right direction when they couldn’t find a place on campus.

Tompkins said that her goal this semester is to “meet as many people—new people—as I can.”