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Feeling Right at Home

Janaiya Hodges made it to her dream school thanks to USC Marshall’s Pathways Program—she hasn’t missed a beat in reaching for her potential.

10.17.22

Janaiya Hodges '25, is taking classes such as advanced corporate finance and microeconomics. "Business just scratches the right part of my brain," she says.

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Janaiya Hodges will tell you she knew she was USC bound since middle school. “If you type my name into Google, you can find old assignment decks from when I was 13- or 14-years old stating that my dream school was USC,” she says.

The kind of student making presentation decks at 13 suggests that she would fit right in at Marshall. But Marshall is competitive, and sometimes the most certain admits don’t make it the first try. However, that’s exactly what the USC Marshall Pathways Program (MPP) was created for. When MPP administrators saw her credentials, they reached out immediately to offer her a spot in the program.

The Marshall Pathways Program was launched in 2019 as a one-of-a-kind recruitment model meant to help talented black and black multi-racial students gain access to a Marshall education. It was created specifically to give competitive them a second chance into Marshall as transfer students.

“When they [MPP administrators] contacted me, I took them up on the offer immediately,” she recalled. MPP staff worked closely with her to tailor her college curriculum to prepare her to transfer to Marshall. Hodges spent her freshman year at a private university in Florida, taking business classes. “The goal was just to get through this year, and then get to where I wanted to be,” she said.

Mission accomplished. Today Hodges is a sophomore with one summer internship with PwC under her belt and an invitation to return to the firm next summer. Learning how to analyze and present data during that internship emboldened her to take on rigorous classes such as advanced corporate finance, microeconomics and philosophy of linguistics. “Business just scratches the right part of my brain,” she said.

She’s also a member of several clubs and works a retail job 15-20 hours a week. “There is so much to do that I don’t want to waste time by not maximizing my options,” she said. “I was unsure of what field of business I wanted to pursue, but participating in the Marshall Pathways Program has allowed me to look at so many sectors to help me find where I want to be," she said.

“Janaiya is a wonderful young woman with an impeccable work ethic. Given my interaction with her and knowing the experience she would receive at PwC as an intern, I felt she was a perfect candidate for the Holoman Scholarship.”

Zivia Sweeney, associate professor of clinical accounting

“I am interested in everything!”

That may be a common refrain at USC but consider this: When Hodges was in high school, she took classes toward an associate’s degree in business from Georgia State, finishing up in 2020 during the pandemic lockdowns.

At Marshall, her focus, drive, and work ethic has been noticed. One mentor nominated her for the prestigious Holomon Scholarship, awarded by USC’s Black Alumni Association.

“Janaiya is a wonderful young woman with an impeccable work ethic,” said Zivia Sweeney, associate professor of clinical accounting. “Given my interaction with her and knowing the experience she would receive at PwC as an intern, I felt she was a perfect candidate for the Holoman Scholarship.”

Already independent-minded, Hodges, 19, says moving to Los Angeles from Atlanta to attend Marshall has helped her grow up even more. And she’s come to realize that she can rely on the Trojan Family. “I thought the Trojan Family was just marketing,” she said. “But being here I see it’s a real thing,” she said. “My experience here at Marshall so far has really been life-changing.”