Eyes on the Prize

Yauss Agahi ’19 knew exactly what she wanted when she arrived at USC as a transfer student. Her efforts are being recognized with the Order of Troy.

May 10, 2019

Some people take no for an answer. Not Yauss Agahi ’19.

When she applied to USC Marshall for her freshman year, she did not get in. She was in good company—the USC admissions rate for 2015 was 17.5 percent.

But Agahi had her eye on the ball. Instead of giving up, she took another route. She spent her freshman year at Chapman, a private university based in Orange, Calif. When she successfully transferred to USC as a spring admit, she took her fall semester classes at a local community college to save money.

When she finally got to USC, she hit the ground running.  

First, she transferred into Marshall from the Price School of Public Policy. “I was more attracted to the curriculum,” she says. “I like finance and accounting. And I have more options with a business degree.”

"It’s ok to keep failing, but it’s important to keep going. It’s part of the process.” --Yauss Agahi

She also threw herself into as many clubs as she could: USC Skiing, USG, Room to Read and Global Brigades, with whom she traveled to Panama.

But she ultimately found her people at the Los Angeles Community Impact Group (known as LACI).

“I’m very passionate about social impact,” she says, “And I met a lot of like-minded people trying to do the best they can while at Marshall at LACI.”

Not surprisingly, one of her favorite teachers is Adlai Wertman, founder of the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab. “He is just amazing, as a teacher and as a mentor.”

Noam Wasserman’s Founders Dilemma’s class also changed her life. “This was the coolest class I ever took,” she said. “It was the intersection of what I learned in Adlai’s class with general entrepreneurship that I can apply in the realm of social impact.”

Agahi has made the most of her time at Marshall. So much so that she volunteered to become a transfer ambassador. “Everybody’s situation is different, but I like to tell transfer students to be strong. It’s ok to keep failing, but it’s important to keep going. It’s part of the process.”

Students who have pursued academic excellence while devoting extensive time and energy in service outside the classroom are recognized by the university with the Order of Troy award. Agahi learned she was a recipient just one day before her graduation.

In her spare time she likes to run. With three half-marathons under her belt, she is training for a full-marathon. She also loves to explore the restaurants in downtown LA.

Having attained this goal, Agahi will be starting work at KPMG in risk management, in its Irvine office. But one day she may launch her own business. Stay tuned. Agahi is not easily swayed by a challenge.