“It’s a long shot, but you can try.” This is one of the last things my community college counselor told me before I left my last meeting with him during my final semester prior to finally transferring. Keep in mind I hadn’t asked him if he thought I could get into USC—I hadn’t asked him his opinion on where I should apply at all—I told him that this was happening. I was going to apply to USC and I was going to get in and that was that. Don’t get me wrong, I still applied for my safety schools, but USC is all I had worked for and the only thing in my sights from the second I started at my community college.
I had kind of an unusual journey. Right out of high school I went to the University of Arizona and made the mistake of committing to a school I had never visit,in the desert no less. It was not the place for me and I realized this very quickly. I transferred to my local community college in Cypress, California, but didn’t know that I wanted to do business until after having a mini-existential crisis after that year at Arizona. I met with my old high school guidance counselor, who I still kept in touch with, to vent and find direction,to which he responded, “I don’t know, I can kinda see you tearin’ it up in the business world. You were always pretty business savvy in high school—you know USC has an amazing program right? You should definitely look into it.” Not only did I look into it, I fell in love with it.
The USC Marshall School of Business was distinguished and challenging and filled with business professionals from across the country that taught courses and were available as a resource if you had any questions. Being a Marshall student meant being able to call insanely inspiring people—who will undoubtedly rule the corporate world in years to come—“classmates”. Being a Marshall student meant not only learning about business concepts and theorizing how businesses are run—it meant starting your own business and learning these concepts firsthand with the help of those that have been in your shoes before. Being a Marshall student meant that after graduating, you’d get to join the greatest network of alumni in the world and earn the privilege of calling yourself a Trojan for life.
There was no way I was going to let this opportunity pass me by. I kept a part-time job to pay for school expenses and enrolled in 15 units my first semester, then 16 units my second semester. Against the suggestions of my guidance counselor, I enrolled in 12 units during summer courses while I kept that part-time job and also completed a summer internship. My last two semesters consisted of 16 units, then my last 18 units, then freedom. Maintaining a 3.94 GPA and working part-time and finishing all of my college applications as a first-generation college student was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and it was the most rewarding thing I have ever had to do.
I would never wish my academic or financial obstacles on anyone, but know that for many, they are a reality. To those people and everyone who is beginning their college application process, I would like to say one thing: don’t let anyone or any circumstance discourage you or make you feel like this task is impossible. You are capable of absolutely anything you set your mind to regardless of how much work it is and regardless of the counselors who tell you it’s “a long shot.” And let me tell you firsthand, sending a screenshot of your acceptance letter to him a couple months later will be the cherry on top of it all.