Florida transplant finds new home in the tight-knit community at York College
It was an honest mistake.
Artara Frederick thought she was applying for a different York College — the one in New York City. She planned to go there for a year before transferring to NYU, her dream school.
It wasn’t until she received her acceptance letter from York College of Pennsylvania she realized what she’d done.
Growing up in Florida, Artara had long dreamed of moving up north. She’d visited New York City and Philadelphia and loved them both.
She checked out the York College website — the right one this time — and liked what she saw. Philadelphia is in Pennsylvania, so really, she figured, how different could York be?
She packed her clothes in two bursting suitcases, shipped her shoes, and hopped on a plane with her dad for freshman orientation.
Finding her way
York, it turns out, is not just like Philadelphia.
As she walked around campus her first day, she thought the school was beautiful. It wasn’t what she was expecting. Artara’s graduating class in high school was 2,000 students. She was used to big cities and big crowds, and her new home had neither.
It was a hard transition. Artara spent a lot of time alone and bored in her dorm room that first semester. She realized if she wanted to have a better experience, she needed to make a change.
“This is an opportunity,” Artara remembers thinking, “and I don’t want to waste it.”
When she found U.N.I.T.Y. club, Uniting Nations in the Year, Artara began to find herself. The group is focused on community outreach and diversity. She went to one meeting, then another. By her second semester, Artara was the group’s treasurer.
Artara wasn’t sitting alone in her dorm room anymore. Now, she was out meeting people, working at the bookstore, and making connections through U.N.I.T.Y.
The first time it snowed, Artara was ecstatic. She didn’t have winter clothes, but that didn’t bother her — she gleefully made snow angels in her “Florida clothes.”
Artara had initially planned on transferring out of York College. But by midway through her second semester, she’d found her place in the community and changed her mind.
“Instead of a school, they make it feel like a home,” she says.
A happy accident
Artara says she’s glad she made that initial mistake and wound up at York College of Pennsylvania.
“It wasn’t what I expected,” she says, “but it was what I needed.”
Being at a smaller school in a smaller city has allowed her to make connections she might not have otherwise made.
Her professors get to know her and care about her success.
“If you need help they’re really accessible,” she says. “There are so many resources open to us here.”
When she was thinking about changing her major, Artara went to a counselor who helped guide her.
“There are so many personalized opportunities you might not get at a bigger university,” she says.
Now a sophomore, Artara is one of the youngest presidents the U.N.I.T.Y. club has ever had. She doesn’t think that would have happened at a bigger school.
“York College just kind of gives you that opportunity if you want it,” she says.
Fish and Grits — that’s what Artara plans to call her future restaurant. She’s pursuing a degree in Business Administration to help her get to that end goal.
Artara is already on her way, running a small bakery and catering when she’s in Florida. Now, she’s making contacts through her professors to bring her business to York.
York College is giving me the tools to follow my dreams, she says.
As for the initial mix-up?
Artara describes it as a happy accident — she wouldn’t change a thing.