Graduating senior Anthony Llamas shares his wisdom on failure and success
Psychology major Anthony Llamas, who graduates on May 13, takes with him more than academic lessons from his time at USC Dornsife. (Photo: Courtesy Anthony Llamas.)

Graduating senior Anthony Llamas shares his wisdom on failure and success

Ahead of graduation on May 13, the psychology major has some advice for other first-generation students like himself on navigating life’s ups and downs: “You’ll never be alone.”
ByAndrea Bennett

During Move-in Day in fall 2018, then-freshman Anthony Llamas shared his journey to USC while his family helped him settle in. The son of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college student, Llamas attended a prep school in San Jose on a full-tuition scholarship and maintained a 4.1 GPA while working 40 hours a week at a local movie theater, before being accepted to USC. Now, preparing to graduate from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences with a degree in psychology, Llamas reflects on his last four years.

What have been the highlights and high points of your USC experience?

One of the major highlights of my USC experience was being able to excel in my academic career and doing so being a first-generation, low-income student of color. As difficult as it was, I made sure to always tell myself that I belonged here just as much as anyone else did.

Anything you learned about yourself?

You must embark on failure in order to cherish the greatness of success. Instead of looking at failures as unfulfillment, I try to look at failures as opportunities to learn from and grow academically and personally in my experiences outside of my academic career.

What piece of advice do you have for freshmen coming into USC?

Life is full of twists and turns. You will experience ups, and you will experience downs where you may feel extremely unfulfilled. The downs will only exist in your mind if you allow them to exist and can only be conquered by you. Have a great set of friends, even if it’s just one or two, and share amazing moments with one another because one day you’ll look back after you’ve graduated, and life will be different from that moment onward.

A special piece of advice for my first-generation, low-income freshman coming into USC: If someone hasn’t told you this yet, I am extremely proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far. You are doing amazing things that many people are aware of and are going to do amazing things in your time at USC. Always prioritize your mental health and seek help if you need it. You’ll never be alone in this journey, and regardless of what career you choose to pursue, understand that your loved ones are proud of you and know that you will be great. Always be yourself.

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