USC Marshall to Host 2024 Tenure Project
The 3rd annual conference focuses on important issues affecting Black, Latinx, and Native junior faculty obtaining tenure in U.S. business schools.
Rapper and Singer Saweetie Visits USC Marshall, Receives Distinguished Speaker Award
Diamonté Harper, better known by her stage name “Saweetie,” visited USC Marshall as a guest lecturer for ALBERT NAPOLI’s BUSINESS ENTREPRENEURSHIP (BAEP 452) class, where she shared advice, lessons in business, and insights into her future career plans. The rapper, who was greeted with a room full of students eager to hear about her journey, is a proud alumna of the university and frequently returns to campus to share her story.
Ever since growing up in the Bay Area, Saweetie knew she wanted to become a Trojan.
“I told myself if I didn’t get into my dream school, I would not look at other options. I got into USC and that was my sign,” Saweetie said.
She spoke candidly about her time at USC, where in the fall of 2014 she took Professor Napoli’s class, “Business for Non-Majors." She discussed with him her desires and aspirations to be an entrepreneur and artist. Napoli became a major influential figure and supporter of her endeavors.
Saweetie recalled a time during her senior year when she attended a career fair to meet potential corporate employers. Napoli pulled her aside and said, “What are you doing here? This is not you, you’re not going to be happy.”
Looking back, Saweetie knows this was a pivotal moment in her career, when she realized she had to go all in on her goal of becoming an artist and musician.
“I saw right away that she was talented,” he recalled her rapping an original song that blew everyone away during class.
I told myself if I didn’t get into my dream school, I would not look at other options. I got into USC and that was my sign.
"She was working in the industry as a background singer, she had no problem hustling to meet people, and she had her family’s support to go out and do this,” said Napoli.
As a student, she balanced several jobs including as a waitress, student worker, and even selling t-shirts that read “Money Makin’ Mamis.” After graduating from USC in 2018, she released her hit song “Icy Girl” which became a viral hit, garnering over 134 million views to date. The song even includes a line dedicated to her time at the school: “See, I went to USC. And got my college degree.”
She has since released music with many artists including YG, Tyga, and Doja Cat, and become a top-streamed artist on multiple music platforms. But her artist collaborations go all the way back to her time in school.
She told Napoli’s students about a project he assigned class, in which they each had to interview an entrepreneur they looked up to. Saweetie interviewed American rapper, singer, and songwriter, Kendrick Lamar. Known as "King Kendrick,” he is widely regarded as one of the most influential rappers of his generation.
Other students may have been too intimidated to reach out to Lamar, but Saweetie was never one to back down from a challenge. She reached out and met with Lamar to discuss his career. She even took a selfie with the rapper.
Sporting her signature “Icy” chain, she shared her phone wallpaper with the class: an image stating her goal to be a billionaire. On top of her enormous success as a singer, she also has various brand partnerships with multiple brands including McDonalds, MAC Cosmetics, and Champion.
Through persistence and unwavering determination, Saweetie turned her aspirations into action. She continues to inspire students and faculty as a guest lecturer by bringing her authentic self and one-of-a-kind story to the classroom. During her recent visit to USC Marshall, she received a certificate of appreciation for her “outstanding contribution in hosting entrepreneurial students at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.”
Albert Napoli’s class which focuses on feasibility analysis allows students to develop, analyze, and validate entrepreneurial concepts including marketing, operational, and financial considerations using customer feedback and risk assessment to conclude worthiness to pursue.
“What I teach is not case study. It’s very experimental. In my class, you have to go out in the real world and test your products. The methodology that is taught doesn’t reduce risk but it heightens the viability for success,” Napoli added.
One piece of advice he shared with his students: “Be a person of action. Regardless of your background everyone can become a successful entrepreneur if you leverage the resources at USC.”
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