With finals conquered and my extracurriculars on hold until the spring, the most challenging yet rewarding semester I’ve experienced thus far is over. Little did I know back in August that over the course of the semester I would be exposed to some amazing people and enjoy some amazing experiences, making new friends and growing closer to old ones, all the while getting to learn new things and discover who I am.
My jobs and extracurriculars are definitely what made the past few months worthwhile. It seemed like I was never short of having something to do, somewhere to be, someone to see. Since this last spring semester I have been a tutor for the USC Upward Bound program, a program very near and dear to my heart. Last summer I served as a resident adviser for the students, ranging in age from 13-18 years old, and this semester really allowed me to continue growing the bonds and friendships I had formed with them. Those kids never cease to crack me up or teach me something new— it honestly seems like after every tutoring session I leave knowing something I didn’t know before. I’ve come to truly care about each and every one of them, wishing nothing more than to see them all succeed and accomplish whatever it is they set their minds and hearts to, because I see the potential, confidence, and determination they all hold.
Though I can’t forget about the good ol’ Unruh Institute of Politics, housed in USC Dornsife. Being a student worker, I am fortunate enough to experience the institute as an employee and as an undergraduate student. Working there has been phenomenal, and I can say that the entire staff of Unruh-ites is more than just a group of coworkers, but a family. From day one they’ve all been very welcoming and are always available whenever anyone needs assistance with anything.
I’ve also had the pleasure of being enrolled in POSC 395’s California Policy Research internship course for a second time. I conducted research in a group with four other students regarding civic leadership and economic development in LA for The Caruso Family Foundation. For a while my career goals were set towards working in one of two fields: education or immigration, working towards reforming or improving whichever one I choose. After working with The Caruso Family Foundation and having the opportunity to interview and meet with high level executives/leaders from organizations such as Caruso Affiliated, the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, CB Richard Ellis, the LA Economic Development Corporation and the LA County Federation of Labor, I’ve discovered a new-found passion for economic and land development. The topic greatly interests me now and has thrown a curveball that I can’t seem to hit. With three possible career paths that I could go into, it seems I now have a full outfield of players, though I can thank the Unruh Institute for helping me to expand my horizons and experience what students at other universities may not be able to.
And what’s work with no play? I definitely had a great time being a part of USG, the Undergraduate Student Government, serving as the Assistant Director for Elections and Recruitment and on the Executive Boards of the Political Student Assembly and the Latina/o Student Assembly, both assemblies being under the programming branch (Program Board) of the organization. Never have I seen such a driven, selfless, and remarkable group of students as I have with USG. Everyone is such a pleasure to work and form long-lasting friendships with. Before joining, I never really knew the extent to which the organization advocated for and programmed for the student body. It amazes me to see the work that is done in that office each and every day, and the level of commitment and passion everyone has towards what it is they do. If anyone wants to see some of the best of what USC has to offer, they need only stop by the USG office and observe. I wholeheartedly enjoy what I do for the organization, am always looking forward to my next project or task and love to support the work of my peers in any way that I can. I really look forward to the upcoming spring semester as well as the next academic year to see what great things happen next for the organization.
And Dornsife Ambassadors — what a great choice I made applying here, and great opportunity I was thankfully given by the wonderful staff (you rock Jonathan and Elise). When I applied, I didn’t fully know what it meant to be an ambassador representing my college (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences) to prospective students, but what I did know was that I wanted to show others how great it is. Throughout the semester, I greatly enjoyed learning so many cool and interesting facts about Dornsife and all the services it has to offer, as well as meet the other ambassadors and learn about their Dornsife experiences. It all came to be showcased during the Discover USC event held last month. As prospective USC/Dornsife students and their families came to campus, determining whether the school would be the right fit, we were given the opportunity to interact with them, sharing our own stories, and boy was it worth it. I was able to talk to a variety of students from different backgrounds, and it was exciting sharing my USC and Dornsife adventures with them. I often found myself engaging in long discussions about my experiences with the college application process, my first-year on campus, my extracurriculars, my work, and so much more. It was all so great, and the thanks the families gave afterwards made me feel like I truly helped them appreciate and be in awe of USC.
So much happened this semester that I am still amazed by it all. I learned not just from class, but from the great people I surrounded myself with and the incredible experiences I had. Every day at USC is special, and what makes this school great is that it keeps me constantly looking forward to the next day, the next experience, because it keeps me on a remarkable journey that I don’t want to end. This semester was a blast, and I cannot wait to see what Spring 2015 has in store for me.