University of Southern California

William Rojas
Getting Into the Game
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Graduating Year
Granada Hills, CA

The journey to USC Marshall

Growing up in Southern California, William Rojas remembers going to USC football games and envisioning himself as a student here. With hard work and perseverance, William not only transferred to USC Marshall, he even made the Trojan football team.

“I wanted to get in so bad that I did whatever it took,” he says. “And I’ve made the most of it since I’ve been here.”

Tailoring his education

Eventually William wants to be CEO of a real estate development company, so he split his concentration between real estate finance and entrepreneurship to help prepare him for his chosen path. “A huge part of my deciding to come to USC was because I could tailor my education to exactly what I wanted to get out of it,” he says.

He says his favorite professor was Robert Bridges, who teaches Real Estate Finance. “I’d go into his office once or twice every other week just to get advice and life lessons,” says William. “The faculty at Marshall are really willing to go the extra mile for you to make sure you are successful.”

He adds that his fellow students also inspired his drive to excel. “At USC Marshall, everybody is focused. Everybody is driven. And it just makes you rise that much higher to the top and to be the best that you can.”

In particular, William values the presentation skills emphasized at USC Marshall. “Most of the classes at Marshall, you’re doing presentations two or three times. There’s a lot of group work. That’s important in preparing you for the real world, and it sets you apart when you’re applying for a position or trying to close a big deal.”

Case for success

William was able to hone his presentation skills even further as a member of the Marshall Case team that won the 2011 Real Estate Challenge at Villanova University. “We competed against 11 of the top real estate programs and business schools in the country,” he says proudly.

“We got the case Monday morning about a real estate development property on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan,” he explains. “We had to do all the analytical work, such as the financial modeling, gathering rent comparables and market research to better understand the demographics that would go into everything.” On Friday, William and his three teammates proposed a 12-story, mixed-use, multi-family redevelopment project aimed at high-income professionals between the ages of 24 and 44. Their strategy and sales pitch earned them the first-place victory, which included a $5,000 prize.

Jumping in at halftime

Even though William transferred to USC partway through his college years, he has made the most of his time here. “I thought I was a little behind,” he says. “A lot of my peers already had completed two or three internships. But it’s never too late, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve if you work hard.”

He immediately became active in the Latino Business Student Association, eventually becoming the group’s president. He tried out for the Trojan football team and was a cornerback. He also joined a fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. All of these experiences, he says “opened doors in so many other places— being able to interact with students of different majors, different ethnicities and different backgrounds. I wanted to get the whole USC experience.”