University of Southern California

Deanna Pherrin
Targeting her future
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Graduating Year
Lake Forest, CA

Deanna Pherrin's goal of attending Marshall had a lot of emotion attached. "My grandmother was a huge USC fan," Deanna says. "And the year I was applying, she passed away. One of the last promises I made to her was that I was going to get in and come here." As Deanna built up community college credits for transfer, she kept a USC sweatshirt in her room.

She also kept that promise to her grandmother. And although she comes from a family of Trojan fans--and has always been one herself--she is the first in her family to attend USC.

A big decision, but easy to make

Before attending USC Marshall, Deanna originally thought she wanted to major in communications. But the more she talked with advisors, the more she realized she actually wanted a career in marketing. "I want to start with a product and take it all the way through the process, from manufacturing to getting people to buy it."

Once she decided on marketing, Deanna realized the advantages USC Marshall offered even beyond its excellent curriculum. "The alumni network, the Trojan Family and the contacts I would meet through Marshall were big factors in my coming here," she says.

"The university is really good at making the transition to USC seamless for transfer students," says Deanna, but it was important to her to be as active on campus as possible. "I had two years to get a four-experience," she says. "I wanted to embrace just about everything."

Seeing USC Marshall from two sides

While at Marshall, Deanna took a job in the school's communications office and worked there through graduation. "I decided I wanted to work on campus," she explains, "because I didn't want to miss anything. I'd be in the know about events and even help coordinate them."

Being both a student and a student staffer at Marshall gave Deanna a well-rounded perspective about the school. "Everyone at USC just wants to help," she says. "It's such a great, positive environment that I don't think you find on every college campus."

She gained valuable experience and contacts as well. "I've been able to meet a lot of the faculty and staff through setting up interviews for major publications, sending out emails, or helping a department fix their webpage," says Deanna. "I've created professional relationships with a lot of the faculty and staff, who've helped me with resume building and skills and things that I could use in internships and jobs outside the office of communication."

A student first

Deanna is used to hard work and enjoys it, having been employed consistently since the age of 16, but she appreciated the fact that the Marshall communications office understood she was a student first. "They even pushed me to take time off when I had a test coming up," she says.

She also found time in the summers for a marketing internship with, a fast-growing consumer resource guide, and the executive internship program at Target.

As for her coursework, she says "the marketing classes were really my passion and my favorite." In particular, she enjoyed Marlene Towns' Consumer Behavior course. "I was almost too excited to go to class every day," Deanna says. "I want to be inside the consumer's mind and figure out how to make that perfect product that everyone will go out and buy."

Other courses she found enlightening include Deborah MacInnis' Advertising and Promotion class--in which she and her classmates designed an integrated marketing campaign for Lexus--and Lan Luo's Strategy and Analysis--which emphasized relevant case studies. "I was doing case studies on products that I actually buy," she says.

"Marshall has been well beyond my expectations--and my expectations were high," says Deanna.