When Bryan Alfaro transferred into USC Marshall from Long Beach City College in 2019, he hit the ground running.
That’s what Marines tend to do.
Alfaro wasted no time in getting involved as a transfer ambassador, joining student orgs and attending networking sessions to polish his skills, all while taking a more than full-time course load.
His military discipline informs his approach to education. “I set a goal, and then I put 100 percent into each step toward that goal.”
Take getting into USC, for example. Since he was a young child enamored with ancient Greek and Roman history, he loved all things Trojan. He noted how at the football games everyone was happy. “So much Trojan spirit,” he recalled. “I wanted that too.”
Gaining admission into USC after the Marines would be an uphill battle, he knew. He was older than most undergraduates, and his high school scores wouldn’t be enough to open the door.
A Marine veteran wins the uphill battle to become a successful transfer student to USC Marshall
He was also recovering from an accident that cut short his military career. He was a sergeant at the time, and had been looking forward to continuing his training for work in the special forces. His injury put an end to that.
During his nearly yearlong recovery, he thought over what he enjoyed the most in his military career. The answer: leadership and cross-cultural interactions. He had done missions overseas that required him to be polished enough to interact and impart information to military leaders of higher rank but also with his peer counterparts.
He decided he would study business with a minor in international relations.
He took his honorable discharge and the GI bill and walked into the VA office at Long Beach City College.
“I told them I wanted to continue my education and eventually transfer to USC, but I didn’t know where to start.”
He signed up for the Transfer Success Program and was able to transfer with most of his general education completed in just 18 months.
Now he volunteers his time as a transfer ambassador, making himself available for new transfer students with as many questions as he had. He’s already hosted two conferences for community college advisors and students to update them on new Marshall transfer initiatives, including the Pathways Program, which offers under-represented minorities a second chance to attend Marshall if they didn’t get in the first time.
It’s important for him to make sure these advisers have all the information they need to help other students like him make the transition into USC.
Winning the Uphill Battle
Alfaro joined the Marines soon after graduating from Long Beach’s Wilson Classical High School. He had been less than a stellar student at the time, he admits. He hoped the Marines would give him focus and discipline. It did both.
Now a sophomore at Marshall, he keeps up on his classwork by preparing more than the other guy. When somebody gets a better grade on a test, he congratulates the student, then asks them how they prepared.
He keeps his eye on that prize. And his hard work and dedication have paid off already. His poise and steadiness garner him a lot of interest at networking events, and he has committed to an internship with Northrup Grumman for the summer.
After five years in the Marines, after all, how hard can micro-economics be?
“That was pretty hard,” he admits. “But I did it.”
Finished with his Marshall core work, he will begin classes in International Relations next semester he says. And he wants to look into data analytics as well.
But for Alfaro, it’s one step at a time.