At the 2017 Rose Bowl game in his hometown of Pasadena, Solomon Abdella realized he would forever remember “all the ups and downs of the game and the beautiful victory at the end, surrounded by Trojans.”
“In that moment, I realized what it meant to be a Trojan,” he said.
For Abdella, that victory was all the more meaningful. As a transfer student from Pasadena City College in 2010, his was a temporary victory. Just one semester in financial and other issues forced him to put his dreams of a USC degree on hold. It would take him five years before he ventured back into the classroom.
“Initially I was discouraged,” he said. “But ultimately, I couldn’t let that hinder me from exploring and trying to better myself.”
Abdella threw himself into work; retail banking, sales, and e-commerce. He wanted to learn as much about business as he could from outside the classroom, in preparation for his eventual return. He even developed the idea for a startup: a compact, multifunctional desk to accommodate people living in small spaces.
When he returned to USC in 2015, he was ready to take on the world. He double majored in business and accounting. He also took courses in Marshall’s entrepreneurship program, where he found inspiration and guidance, not to mention pitch competitions. His idea won $1,000 at the “1,000 Pitches” competition held by SparkSC.
He took part in case competitions as well, including the National Diversity Case Competition at Indiana University (with faculty adviser Debra Langford) and CBS Case Competition in Copenhagen with the Marshall Case Team. He has served in leadership roles in the Accounting Society and given back to the community through USC Troy Camp, where the kids he mentors “are always a bright spot in the week.”
After interning with Deloitte this summer, Abdella will graduate in December. He plans to travel and study for the CPA before starting his career in consulting. He is also excited about pursuing ideas for a fashion service app and a snack company.
“What I’ve learned from my journey is that we all face challenges that have the potential to deter us from achieving our goals,” he said. “However, if we embrace those challenges and take daily steps toward self-development, we will be better prepared individuals.”