Student Ambassadors

If you have questions about joining USC Rossier, our student ambassadors can provide you with helpful insight through the lens of their own experiences. View the profiles below and connect with a student of your choice.

If you are interested in connecting with current PhD students, please visit the PhD Student Directory.

Click on a program to view its student ambassadors.

 

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

Back to top

Katie Boothby

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
Year of program graduation:
Hometown: Manassas, Virginia and Rochester, New York
Undergrad Institution: West Virginia University
Undergrad Major: Theatre-Acting

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am the first person in my family to attend college.

Future plans and career goals:
I am excited to have the opportunity to work as a teacher in Los Angeles. My goal is to encourage my students to be problem solvers, innovative thinkers, and global communicators. Another goal is to constantly continue to learn about education from everyone I work with. I don’t want to ever stop learning! I would love to get my PhD in the future.

Why did you choose USC?
USC Rossier’s commitment to equity and learning was the driving force in why I chose this program. When I visited the school, the admissions staff was welcoming. The professors I met during the MAT preview day were incredibly insightful, and led fascinating discussions. I felt that Rossier would be the best choice for me, because I want to teach in California.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I love that the admissions staff and professors are welcoming. They’re available to answer any questions you might have, and they encourage you to ask questions as a process for learning. My cohort is also a wonderful group of people who make me feel excited about the learning process and collaboration.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Along with being a student ambassador, I’m working as a part time nanny, and substitute preschool teacher.

Fun facts about you:

  • I’m watching documentaries!
  • I love going to all of the flea markets around LA to collect vintage clothing!
  • I love taking mini adventures in my Jeep to explore all different areas of California.

Tip for prospective students:
Stay calm and realize that you CAN do this! Understand that you’re capable, and deserving of a high-quality education from an incredible school. Make checklists for the tasks you need to get done, and don’t try to overdo it by doing everything in one day. Plan ahead, and be as confident in yourself as you can possibly be.


Kristen Lee

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) (Multiple-Subject)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): UCLA
Undergrad Major(s): International Development Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I served in Peace Corps Uganda as a literacy instructor for fourth graders.

Future plans and career goals:
After gaining more experience as an elementary school teacher, I hope to pursue a doctorate in education and either teach abroad and help schools with curriculum building and instruction, or become a professor at a university and teach future teachers.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of its mission statement, which focuses on educational equity and teaches the importance of valuing each student and the strengths and experiences he or she brings into the classroom. The strong support and network within the USC staff and community was another reason for why I chose USC.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Despite starting my first semester of graduate school online instead of on campus, I truly appreciate the dedicated support I have been receiving from faculty, professors, and other students. Everyone at USC is committed to taking care of their students and ensuring their success within the program. I am also enjoying my class discussions and readings as I continue to learn more about social justice within the education system, and the role I will play as a future teacher.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am an assistant manager at a coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles and have been working there for two years.

Fun facts about you:

  • I ran the Los Angeles Marathon in 2019 with only two months of training (crazy, I know!! But I would definitely run another marathon)
  • I used to hate coffee, but after working at a coffee shop, I can’t go a day without it
  • I love to draw as it’s one of the main ways I de-stress

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for questions or advice! I know the application process can be extremely stressful and daunting, so we’re here to help and support each other. Another suggestion I would give is to research the program, learn about its mission statement, and see if it aligns with your ideals and who you want to be as a future teacher.


Helia Soo Lee

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
Single Subject Math (Secondary)
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Lake Forest, CA
Undergrad Institution: University of California, Davis
Undergrad Major: Mathematics

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
Even though I was a math major, I interned in the communications department in Washington D.C.

Future plans and career goals:
I hope to teach math at high school or community college level, then earn a doctorate to teach at a university level. Lately, I’ve been thinking about going into policy and working in Washington D.C., but I’m willing to go where I am called.

Why did you chose USC?
I chose USC because I wanted to be in the heart of achieving equitable education. Yes, I had my prejudices about the university and if I will be able to thrive as a minority, first-generation student, but all my judgements crumbled as I read the USC Rossier Mission Statement. Who wouldn’t want to “interrogate systems of power,” and “solve the most intractable” problems in education? Sign me up.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
At times, I feel completely overwhelmed by the challenges of becoming a good educator. Professors and peers have never failed to encourage me through those times and remind me that gaps can be closed, students can be reached, and support can be found. One of my professors always begins her class by saying “I have been thinking of you all week,” and I tear up every time because I know she means it.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love brunches!
  • Math is not my favorite subject… don’t tell my students.

Tip for prospective students:
Plan things out. You need time to reflect because this is an important step in your life. I had so many emotional conversations with friends and mentors before and during the application process. Be frustrated for couple days, focused and serious for couple more, write self-reflections for few hours, and you’ll realize you’ve finished.


Master of Arts in Teaching-Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT–TESOL)

Back to top

Samantha Jungheim

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching– Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT–TESOL)
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Laguna Beach, CA
Undergrad Institution: San Francisco Art Institute
Undergrad Major: Painting

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
My background in visual art differs from many of my classmates in the MAT-TESOL program. Studying art has made me a better communicator and I’m able to tap into my creativity when making lesson plans. I also studied abroad in Paris for 5 months and taught English in Korea for 2.5 years. Both of my experiences living abroad have informed my teaching style.

Future plans and career goals:
After graduating I plan on applying to several fellowships to teach abroad. Long term, I would like to teach adults English in the L.A. area and create teaching materials.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC for a variety of reasons such as USC Rossier’s mission for educational equity. USC also has an amazing community and network that is located in an international city, which aligns with my goal to educate international adults in English.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
I really value my interaction with the MAT-TESOL faculty. Every time I have a conversation with them I gain more insight into the TESOL field.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Currently, I work at the USC American Language Institute and Office for International Services. My two roles on campus allow me to help and learn from international students and their spouses.

Fun facts about you:

  • Before starting at USC, I did a week-long yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia.
  • I’m a fourth generation Angelino (born in L.A.), but I mostly grew up in Orange County.
  • I’m studying Korean in my free time.

Tip for prospective students:
Look at the website and make a to-do list of what you need to accomplish to complete your application. Go step by step to finish the application (don’t try to finish it in one sitting!). Find a few different people to read your statement of purpose and revise your statement before submitting your application.


Ni Yin

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching– Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT–TESOL)
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Guangdong, China
Undergrad Institution: Ocean University of China
Undergrad Major: Chemistry

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I made up my mind to change major!

Future plans and career goals:
As a student, I want to keep an excellent GPA and make many new friends. I plan to get a California teaching credential and find a job because my brothers and sister may come here for education.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose California as my dream location because I love the weather here so much, just like my hometown. I have been here for 7 years and am impressed by the trees which are really tall and only have a few leaves on top. I started searching universities in California then I found USC, a top-ranked university, and USC Rossier, which also ranks highly. Additionally, the TESOL program provides students opportunities to do fieldwork and the credential track that I am interested in.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
I attended the summer intensive course a month ago. It helped me be well-prepared for this fall semester because there are so many big differences between the Chinese education system and America’s.

More importantly, I met so many warm-hearted and energetic teachers and classmates in the course. We had class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday to Friday, found delicious restaurants and had lunch together. Moreover, after completing many assignments and projects, my academic skills improved as well as the relationship with my classmates and teachers. And during those processes, we helped and collaborated with each other all the time, which is the reason why I did not feel homesick.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I signed up for the TESOL club and I became the USC Rossier student ambassador! Moreover, I am applying to be an online English teacher to gain more teaching experience.

Fun facts about you:
I got my English name Joey because of my Chinese name. In China, we have a tradition that the name of all the children of the same generation needs to have the same character. So my given name is Zuer, which pronounces like Joey in Cantonese. As for my hobby, I have practiced brush lettering, one kind of English calligraphy, for almost 2 years. What’s more, I knew nothing about cooking before I came here. But now, my cooking skills have improved a lot and my friends want me to open a restaurant.

Tip for prospective students:
Be confident! Plan in advance! Be busy!
It is okay and not uncommon that people feel stressed out during the application. Believing in yourself is the first thing to do in order to solve problems. Making a detailed plan early can also help. Then last but not least, try hard and stay busy. I firmly believe a Chinese saying that states if you keep going and keep trying, then the shadow will flee away and you can see the daybreak.


Christine Yu

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT-TESOL)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Undergrad Institution(s): Brooklyn College
Undergrad Major(s): Childhood Education

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud child of two Chinese immigrants, the eldest of three and the first in my family to pursue a master’s degree. Being from New York and having done my undergraduate education there, my learning standards are all NY-based so it’s very interesting to compare two different states education standards, how they are similar and different.

Future plans and career goals:
My first plan of action is to graduate from USC with a good GPA. My next goal would be to find a job overseas to teach and gain more experience before coming back to the United States to pursue a teaching job.

Why did you choose USC?
One thing is that I truly wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. Choosing California which was all the way across the country was something I normally would not do. Additionally, out of all the schools I applied to, I could truly envision myself at USC because of the involvement from all the students, professors and staff. USC Rossier’s MAT-TESOL program is also one of the best programs for TESOL, and USC is a top university.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Despite having to learn over Zoom, I’m still able to connect with my fellow peers and faculty. USC Rossier has been doing their best to reach out and provide support, which helps me value and appreciate the school even more.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently am tutoring students at elementary school level with English. I also am now part of the Student Ambassadors Program, which I am ecstatic for!

Fun facts about you:

  • I love traveling and have been to over 8 countries—2 of them solo!
  • I love baking in my free time, having baked things from cookies to cheese cakes. I always end up baking too much and sharing it with my friends and family.
  • Hiking is one of my favorite things to do.

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help! Applying for a master’s program is not an easy task. Reaching out to people within the master’s program or talking to professors to solidify your decision is something that you should definitely do!


Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)

Back to top

Jeannie Chen

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Los Angeles/Nanjing
Undergrad Institution(s): California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
Undergrad Major(s): English/American Literature

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
My father was from Taiwan (台湾) and my mother is from Nanjing (南京). I identify as second-generation American-born Chinese and learned that I am one-fourth Manchurian after discovering that my grandfather had passed as Han for much of his life. I attribute my fluency in Mandarin to my maternal grandparents who helped raise me, and I have set a life goal to read my grandmother’s handwritten memoir in Chinese from start to finish. The manuscript begins from her own experiences as a child in Guilin (桂林) all the way to the day I was born in the hospital in Los Angeles (Panorama City).

Future plans and career goals:
future role(s) will entail digital curriculum development work and combine my instructional experience with technological knowledge to support blended learning in any environment. Whether this happens in a higher education institution, at a corporate organization/industry, and/or through standalone individual or team-based projects, I plan to use what I learn from the LDT Program to inform every step of my journey.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC with the goal of expanding my available career options. I previously earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at UCLA, and knew that entering USC would help me grow my professional networks, meet a cohort of passionate and intelligent individuals from whom I could gain new perspectives, and take advantage of new opportunities to continue my own education and lifelong learning.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I appreciate the flexibility of an online program, which allows me to carve out important time for professional development, career commitments, and research interests. I also value the strong core coalition of individuals within my LDT cohort, some of whom I plan to work with closely in the future. Taking on something as challenging as an advanced degree means that graduate students only get out of their educational experiences what they put into it. Therefore, I make sure to invest in the people I connect with at USC, as well as actively get involved in professional and volunteer initiatives that have the power to enact systemic change and promote much-needed reform in educational policies and practices.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I have served on the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) Annual Planning Committee, Theatre Library Association (TLA) Professional Awards and Scholarships Committee, and the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Scholarships and Awards Committee. I have also done volunteer work with the Association of Talent Development (ATD) Los Angeles Chapter. In my spare time, I enjoy travel photography, writing, music-making, working on personal projects, and engaging with experiences in which I can learn something new.

Fun facts about you:

  • I am a classically trained pianist and have performed on-stage both in the U.S. and internationally.
  • I used to be a night owl, but then accidentally became a morning person after returning from a family vacation and overcoming a bad case of influenza, where I could not do anything but sleep for an entire week straight.
  • Whenever I visit relatives or meet locals in my home country, I am regularly informed that my spoken Mandarin sounds like a mixed bag of a Taiwanese accent and heavy northeastern Chinese (东北) dialect – perhaps due to the copious amounts of traditional Chinese stand-up comedy (相声/小品) I watched when I was younger and the time I hosted an international student from Taiwan in my home for over a year.

Tip for prospective students:
In any graduate degree program, it’s important to focus on building relationships with your cohort and faculty, and to take a mastery-oriented approach to learning the course materials. Knowing when and how to ask for help is one of the most important skills you can develop no matter where you are in your academic or professional journey. Join a mock class or information session to get a feel for the program structure and course content. Lastly, make the decision that best suits your specific needs, and feel free to schedule a time to speak with me if you’d like insights from a student perspective.


Jennifer Gomez

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Palm Springs, CA
Undergrad Institution: California Polytechnic State University, Pomona
Undergrad Major: Business Administration

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am the daughter of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college student/graduate. I began my educational journey by attending a community college where I received an Associate’s and continued through to Cal Poly Pomona for my Bachelor’s and a teaching credential.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan to use the skills and knowledge gained in USC’s LDT program to become a leader within my K-12 educator position and to proceed into teaching in higher education. After more years of experience in the classroom at different levels, I hope to become a Director of Instruction and Curriculum.

Why did you choose USC?
Growing up with the odds stacked against me, I never thought that I could apply to USC and make it in, even though I graduated high school with honors.

Being an educator, I want to be the best role model for my students and that means taking risks—thus, I applied to USC. This school provides incredible learning experiences and has an amazing network of alumni. The prestige of the university speaks for itself and it is an honor to be attending.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I was nervous that being a part of an online program would undermine my experience of being a USC student. However, USC Rossier has made sure that we are as integrated into the experience as possible. Getting to know my cohort has been the best experience because we share some of the same values and are supportive of each other.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I teach English as a Second Language to adult learners within my community and work with my school’s theater program. I also spend time with my family, take care of my dogs, bake, and enjoy going to sporting events.

Fun fact about you:

  • You can see me on The Price is Right giving my sister-in-law the winning bid to win the Grand Prize
  • Willing to stand in line for 2+ hours for some Howlin’ Rays
  • Have played basketball, intramural football, cheerleading, dance, and club soccer.

One tip for prospective students:
The courses and tasks may seem daunting, but don’t stress. Enjoy the journey and build relationships with your cohort. Reach out to your professors—they are all so great, knowledgeable, and friendly.


Marcel Guerra

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Bakersfield, CA
Undergrad Institution: California State University, Bakersfield
Undergrad Major: Communications – concentration in Journalism

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
My father is from Venezuela and my mother is from Brazil, which makes me fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. I am a product of the Bakersfield City School District having gone through the district from Kindergarten through 8th grade. I am in my 5th year of working for BCSD as an 8th grade Math/Science teacher as well as 7th grade Project Lead the Way Teacher.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan to continue giving back to my community and the Bakersfield City School District and apply the knowledge I acquire in the program to developing curriculum and content for my math team and my students, in order to better their learning experience in a way where technology is an empowering asset to and for them.

Why did you choose USC?
USC has always been my dream university since I saw their marching band perform at Disneyland in 1994! The Fight Song is something I’ve known since I was a little kid. Moreover, I always was compelled by USC academics and the prestige of the university.

What do you value the most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The applicability of what I learn to my daily job! It’s unbelievable to me that things that I’m learning just starting the LDT program are things that I can take the following day to work and apply inside my classroom. I love the fact that my students and school can benefit from my education starting now.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I’m very involved in the school where I work as well as my district in general. I coach girls’ soccer at my middle school. I also participate heavily in the BCSD Migrant Education Program where I coach the Spanish Debate team and take students to the State competition every year.

Fun fact about you:

  • I love spending time at home with my family when I’m not at work. (two sons – 3 years old and 2 months old, as well as two dogs and five cats)
  • I love gardening and mowing my lawn.
  • I have dual-citizenship (USA/Brazil)

One tip for prospective students:
Believe in yourself and put aside the doubt! I never thought the day would come when I could say that I’m a Trojan. But, alas, the day is here. Do your research and see what your program entails as well as the application requirements. Lastly, make the decision to commit and go through with everything necessary to make it happen. What you’ll get from it all is invaluable.


Kia Hill

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Undergrad Institution: Purdue University, West Lafayette
Undergrad Major: Interdisc. Biology with a minor in Law & Society.

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I have a very large immediate family. My mother had a total of eleven children so we were so close to being cheaper by the dozen! I am considered the trailblazer of my family as a first-generation college graduate with intentions to continue my education further. I hope to continue to make my family proud and inspire my younger siblings and the next generations of learners.

Future plans and career goals:
Short Term Goals: My short-term goals are to obtain USC’s Master of Education LDT degree that aligns perfectly with my career aspirations to continue in education design and enhance my skills to leverage technology, apply learning and motivation research, and design holistic learning experiences within the education equity framework. Long Goals/Career Goals: My long-term career goal is to be a Continuing Medical Education Director within the next five to six years.

Why did you choose USC?
One reason I was interested in joining the Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology program is because I wanted to combine my work experience as a full-time employee in Continuing Medical Education (CME) curricular design, project management and learning management system administration with a master’s degree. I chose an online program because, as a full time working professional, I needed the flexibility of being able to remotely access classroom sessions.

The main reason that I choose USC was that, compared to the other institutions with education technology programs, the robust integration of learning theories, instructional design and the use of technology was unmatched. USC is equipped with knowledgeable instructors that are passionate about providing you valuable courses and a personal, virtual educational experience.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
The support of the instructors and faculty is incredible! I am able to incorporate what I learn from LDT in real time at work. Also, in this program there are many learners from various backgrounds in terms of education and profession.

The video-conferencing system truly does make you feel like the Brady Bunch where you can see all of your classmates and instructor at one time. There are virtual break-out sessions and instructor office hours which are very helpful. I definitely feel tremendously supported by my instructors and peers to speak out during the sessions and engage others. Along with access to all of the USC resources such as student libraries, professional development, alumni networks and faculty mentoring relationships there are many valuable experiences here at USC Rossier.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I enjoy living a health-focused lifestyle by visiting my local wellness center and engaging in exercises such as hiking, skiing, BJJ and eating a plant-based diet. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling and volunteering.

Fun facts about you:

  • I wrestled in high school and did Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in college
  • I am an artist in my spare time. I enjoy drawling cartoons and graphics.
  • I have a big sweet tooth (favorite chocolate is Ferrero Rocher)
  • I consider myself a vegan chef and foodie

Tip for prospective students:
Pre-admission tips: Utilize all of the resources that USC Rossier has to offer. There are mock-class sessions, informational webinars and of course feel free to contact me as your student ambassador! I want you to help you truly feel secure that you’re making the right decision for you by joining us in the Trojan family.


Mareo-Ahmir Lawso

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Undergrad Institution(s): California State University, Northridge CSUN
Undergrad Major(s): Electronic Media Management

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I have been privileged to perform before many audiences, travel the world, and survive going to war. I have been able to produce, work, and act in various Hollywood productions. I’ve also been a news reporter, editor, engineer, and I manage at local radio stations while assisting veterans in our community.

Future plans and career goals:
My life goal is to encourage broadcasters and artists to create their dreams through multimedia management. I plan to teach learners of all walks of life how to use multimedia technology to produce content for their businesses, organizations, and personal endeavors.

Why did you choose USC?
I am cardinal and gold to the core. My mother attended USC and enrolled me in a small nearby public school. It became 32nd Street USC Magnet School while I was in attendance. It was the USC Rossier School of Education that instilled in me the belief that I can accomplish anything. I chose USC to “pay it forward.”

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I value camaraderie in the USC community that focuses on inspiring, motivating, and encouraging those who have often historically marginalized. It is great to finally see and work with other students who have had similar experiences in our society.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Since the pandemic, much of my overall participation has slowed down. However, it has not stopped me from joining Lambda Delta Tau, becoming a USC Student Ambassador, volunteering at the Association for Talent and Development, and working closely with our co-ed fraternal philanthropy, the California Department of Disabled American Veterans. I am also an active alumni member of Sigma Tau Alpha Co-ed Veterans Fraternity.

Fun facts about you:
32nd Street opened the doors of opportunity for me. It was there that I was encouraged to perform for Sarah Fergusson, the Duchess of York, motivated to act in a commercial with Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, and inspired to become an activist against apartheid before attending high school.

Tip for prospective students:
Opportunity motivates success. It is our duty as educators to inspire learners to believe in themselves, so they are encouraged to retrieve the knowledge they need to achieve the goals that will allow them to succeed.


Luis Martiz

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)
Year of program graduation: 2023
Hometown: South Gate, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of California, Berkeley
Undergrad Major(s): History

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud product of the Educational Opportunity Program at UC Berkeley so shout out to any Summer Bridges. Until the age of 23 I was extremely shy. That all changed when I canvassed for the Democratic party in Orange County, registering people to vote and encouraging civic engagement.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to continue to help people as best as I can. Whether that is as an instructional designer, director of a program, or something else but for sure in higher education. My goal is to work with students who came from a similar background as mine (first generation, low-income, unrepresented).

Why did you choose USC?
I choose USC because of the history the school has with my family. My mom and aunts went to 32nd St. School and they always had great memories of USC students volunteering in their classes. I really didn’t realize how strong the Trojan family was until I started working here in 2016. I can honestly say it’s been one of the best choices in my life!

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
My professors and classmates have been the best part of Rossier. We have a pretty diverse group in my cohort so I appreciate the different walks of life we all come from. The professors I’ve had so far have been great and have a genuine concern for the students.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work full time at USC with the International Academy. But besides work, I love to cook! I was blessed to have two parents who cook amazing food and it’s been a goal of mine to carry on the tradition of cooking authentic Mexican and Ecuadorian dishes. When I’m not cooking (or studying), I am playing with my maltipoo Otis or researching fantasy football matchups.

Fun facts about you:

  • I know how to play 4 different instruments.
  • Lifelong Laker fan and very happy about our 17th championship!
  • Favorite music artists (no particular order): The Strokes, Denzel Curry, Kendrick Lamar.
  • I hate cheese!

Tip for prospective students:
Attend the info sessions and put yourself out there. Ask a lot of questions. Speak to different people at different stages of the grad school experience to get a holistic view of the process. Don’t forget you can email us, too!


Dante Treggs

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online (LDT online)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Alta Loma, CA
Undergrad Institution: Lees-McRae College. Banner Elk, NC
Undergrad Major: Psychology with a minor in Business Management

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I was raised by a single mother who worked every day to give me and my little brother the best she could. I am the first in my family to graduate from college with an undergraduate degree and first to pursue their master’s. I understand the many struggles minority communities face, encountering some of them myself. I know firsthand the determination and hard work it takes thrive when in difficult situations. That strength is what makes me a Trojan. Fight On!

Future plans and career goals:
Work and collaborate with companies who appreciate diversity and encourage equity. I plan to continue building my learning group, but I also look forward to helping companies and individuals grow as well.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because my long-term, personal, and career goals align with USC’s mission statement. USC’s involvement in their surrounding communities and the EPIC Trojan family are also reasons I chose USC.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
I value the immediate connections and bonds I’ve made with my classmates. Many of us chose USC Rossier for the same reasons, with hopes to make a difference. Being surrounded with people who have the same goals and mantra as you really empowers you to succeed and feel supported.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I founded and direct a learning group for under-privileged students, called P.L.U.S. (Personalized Learning for Urban Students). I try to sneak in time to hike with my Labrador J.J. and I’m part of a book club.

Fun facts about you:

  • People say my Black Labrador an I look alike (I am a dog person).
  • I worked as a Deckhand on 3 different boats for 2 years off the coast of North Carolina. (I enjoy boating)
  • I have OCD, so sometimes I organize and clean things just for fun.
  • I love watching and playing sports.

Tip for prospective students:
Manage your time wisely and take a step back to look at your past successes and failures. You are pursuing something that is accomplishable, but it will take effort and dedication. Put not only your best foot forward but use both feet and every resource available to you to reach your dreams.


Ni Yin

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching– Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MAT–TESOL)
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Guangdong, China
Undergrad Institution: Ocean University of China
Undergrad Major: Chemistry

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I made up my mind to change major!

Future plans and career goals:
As a student, I want to keep an excellent GPA and make many new friends. I plan to get a California teaching credential and find a job because my brothers and sister may come here for education.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose California as my dream location because I love the weather here so much, just like my hometown. I have been here for 7 years and am impressed by the trees which are really tall and only have a few leaves on top. I started searching universities in California then I found USC, a top-ranked university, and USC Rossier, which also ranks highly. Additionally, the TESOL program provides students opportunities to do fieldwork and the credential track that I am interested in.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
I attended the summer intensive course a month ago. It helped me be well-prepared for this fall semester because there are so many big differences between the Chinese education system and America’s.

More importantly, I met so many warm-hearted and energetic teachers and classmates in the course. We had class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday to Friday, found delicious restaurants and had lunch together. Moreover, after completing many assignments and projects, my academic skills improved as well as the relationship with my classmates and teachers. And during those processes, we helped and collaborated with each other all the time, which is the reason why I did not feel homesick.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I signed up for the TESOL club and I became the USC Rossier student ambassador! Moreover, I am applying to be an online English teacher to gain more teaching experience.

Fun facts about you:
I got my English name Joey because of my Chinese name. In China, we have a tradition that the name of all the children of the same generation needs to have the same character. So my given name is Zuer, which pronounces like Joey in Cantonese. As for my hobby, I have practiced brush lettering, one kind of English calligraphy, for almost 2 years. What’s more, I knew nothing about cooking before I came here. But now, my cooking skills have improved a lot and my friends want me to open a restaurant.

Tip for prospective students:
Be confident! Plan in advance! Be busy!
It is okay and not uncommon that people feel stressed out during the application. Believing in yourself is the first thing to do in order to solve problems. Making a detailed plan early can also help. Then last but not least, try hard and stay busy. I firmly believe a Chinese saying that states if you keep going and keep trying, then the shadow will flee away and you can see the daybreak.


Master of Education in Enrollment Management Policy online (EMP Online)

Back to top

Joan Harrison

Program: Master of Education in Enrollment Management Policy online (EMP online)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: New York City
Undergrad Institution: Hunter College, CUNY and Universite laval, Quebec (I did not graduate from either of these institutions)
Undergrad Major: English

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I was born in Scotland and came to New York as a young woman. I now find myself working at a school that was founded by another Scottish immigrant, Alexander Robertson, in 1789

Future plans and career goals:
I’d like to stay in Enrollment Management. I enjoy the variety of the work and getting to meet people from many different areas and countries.

Why did you choose USC?
The USC Rossier School of Education has the only Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice in the country. Its faculty are experts in this field. In fact, they are the brain trust of enrollment management.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The collegial atmosphere between our cohort and the faculty is unparalleled. I feel completely supported and primed to do my best work.

One tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It sounds like banal advice but at this university you will get as much help as you ask for, and promptly.


Evan Hassan

Program: Master of Education in Enrollment Management Policy online (EMP online)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Encino, California
Undergrad Institution:Indiana University and California State University, Northridge
Undergrad Major: Communication Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
Between undergrad and applying for my master’s at USC, I have taught kindergarten for the last 12 years. This has offered quite a different insight to education than that of my EMP cohort.

Future plans and career goals:
I aspire to work as a Director of Admissions and/or Enrollment Manager for an independent school, where I can ultimately work my way up to becoming a Head of School. Wherever my path takes me, I plan to make a difference in education.

Why did you choose the EMP program?
I have learned so much about education through teaching, but I recognize that enrollment managers have an effect that reaches well beyond the classroom. Because USC Rossier’s EMP program is online, it is taught by leaders in the field from all over the country. I love that this program aspires to produce enrollment managers who can positively effect educational equity and societal change.

What do you value the most about your experience in the EMP program?
My professors and cohort. The professors have set the table for us to have so many eye-opening conversations. Because everyone comes from different positions within enrollment management our discussions are filled with different perspectives.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
While I work hard at USC, I continue to teach kindergarten. I also love traveling far, as well as hanging nearby with family and friends. Backpacking and hiking recalibrate my system, and I try to get to the mountains as much as possible. When they’re covered by snow, I love to ski them!

Fun fact about you:

  • I have learned so much about life through sports. Soccer is my first love and I still enjoy playing every week.
  • I never ate Thai food until I went to Thailand, and now I can’t stop eating it.
  • I traveled the country playing adult kickball, and called it quits after my team won the national championship

One tip for prospective students:
You can do it! Whether you are the most accomplished student or you have been out of education for years, you have a place at here. USC Rossier truly wants to diversify their classes, and they do so by looking holistically at all applicants and what they bring to the table. Trust that your experiences make you valuable, because you are undoubtedly unique.


Grace Lloyd

Program: Master of Education in Enrollment Management Policy online (EMP online)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Allentown, New Jersey
Undergrad Institution(s): Grinnell College
Undergrad Major(s): English / Theatre, concentration in Technology Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a senior assistant director of admission at Grinnell College, a small, private liberal arts college in Iowa. I recruit and read applications from Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and international students. Outside of my job, I have been in more plays than I can name and I write short stories, novellas, and poems.

Future plans and career goals:
I am committed to continuing my career in admission. I absolutely love admission work and want to be a leader in the field.

Why did you choose USC?
USC’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion was immediately attractive to me when I was researching programs. Then I met some lovely people: Liana Hsu and Professor Jerry Lucido. They showed me that USC is a welcoming place with thoughtful people, and I knew it was the perfect fit for me.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The people, and the rigor. I wanted a school that, in a virtual format, would still provide the small, intimate learning environment that I find so helpful to have alongside a rigorous academic course load. The readings, discussions, and more have been so relevant and eye-opening, and I feel constantly challenged (in the right ways) in my classes. Having passionate classmates and open-minded professors supporting and working with me makes the rigor of the environment and the discussion-based classroom setting even more meaningful.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work full-time job at Grinnell College’s Office of Admission as a senior assistant director of admission. Outside of work and class, I am a hiker, a video gamer, a reader, and most notably, a cook.

Fun facts about you:
I love to travel. I’ve been to 33 states and 23 countries so far, and my goal is to visit all 50 states and at least 100 countries by the end of my life.

Tip for prospective students:
Reach out! Don’t be afraid to email or call—we are here to help. And honestly—what better way to know if a place is a good “fit” for you then by talking to current students?


Cassandra Padilla

Program: Master of Education in Enrollment Management Policy online (EMP online)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: East Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution:Union College in New York
Undergrad Major: Theatre

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud Mexican-American womxn and a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I was raised in a single parent household and I am the second oldest of 7 children. In high school, my college counselor would only help students apply to community colleges, but I knew I was meant for more. Believe it or not, my dream college was Harvard. I was fortunate to have applied and been accepted into the One Voice Scholars program where they assist first-generation, low income high school students in college application assistance and financial support with application costs to attend 4-year private institutions.

When I got to college, I was selected to be a part of the Academic Opportunity Program, which provided personal, academic, and financial support to first-generation students. Without this program, I would not have realized what I wanted to do with my life: give back to the communities that I represent in providing college access opportunities. After graduating, I served two years as a College Advisor with the USC College Advising Corps in the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice (CERPP), where we serve low-income, first-generation, underrepresented high school seniors.

Future plans and career goals:
I would love to either be the Dean of Admissions or Director of an Educational Opportunity Program at any school in Southern California.

Why did you choose the EMP program?
I chose this program because I wanted to be submerged into higher education and not just one side of it. In this program, you are not only learning about admissions (which is what many people assume). You are learning about admissions, financial aid, orientation programs, and so much more and how they all come together to improve student retention at their institutions.

What do you value the most about your experience in the EMP program?
I value the support I am given from my professors and the learning I am receiving from the top experts in the higher education field. My professors truly enjoy what they teach and it shows.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of work and studies, I work as a bartender at Angel City Brewery to increase my beer knowledge and volunteer as a College Adviser at Girls Today Women Tomorrow.

Fun fact about you:

  • I am a part of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and volunteer with the East Los Angeles Women’s Center and other nonprofit organizations that seek to provide support from domestic violence services to health services and empower womxn of all identities.
  • I love to cook and bake for my family. From a grilled cheese sandwich to Spaghetti alla Carbonara, I love to challenge myself with new recipes and add a little twist to it!

One tip for prospective students:
Do not jump into the first interesting graduate school program you find. Take your time and do research into the other programs offered at the same college or others. With enough research, you will find the programs that fit your goals and more!


Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)

Back to top

Jacob Boarnet

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of California, Irvine
Undergrad Major(s): B.A. Criminology, Law, & Society, B.F.A. in Dance Choreography, B.F.A. in Dance Performance, Minor in Psychology and Social Behavior.

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am first and foremost an artist, and I incorporate the lessons I have learned from my dance training and education into my everyday life. My dance experiences have prominently shaped my values and the person I am today, continuing to drive my desires of continual curiosity and learning, acting with empathy and kindness, and civic mindedness and being an active member in my community.

Future plans and career goals:
I hope to continue working in higher education after I graduate, ideally working in an academic department as an Academic Advisor/Counselor or Student Services Director. Eventually, I’d like to continue my education and obtain a PhD, where hopefully I could continue with my academic, research, and student affairs interests.

Why did you choose USC?
One of the main reasons I chose USC was because of USC Rossier’s mission and commitment to educational equity, and the school’s emphasis on social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. My research interests are in the representation of historically marginalized groups, and joining the USC Rossier community is the perfect opportunity to continue learning and researching about equity and inclusion.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Being a part of the USC Rossier community with my fellow peers, staff members, and professors is such a valuable experience of being in this program. Learning from everyone around me, listening to their experiences and perspectives, and conversing about ways to advance educational equity is such an honor.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am very fortunate to have a myriad of involvements at USC outside of my studies. My graduate assistantship is working as the Graduate Assistant for the USC Sony Astani Civil and Environmental Engineering Student Services Office, and I also have a research assistantship as a Research Intern in the USC Center for Education, Identity, and Social Justice, co-directed by USC Rossier professors Shafiqa Ahmadi and Darnell Cole.
In addition, I’m on the executive board for the USC Rossier Student Organization Council, and I’m also a Senator for Graduate Student Government where I am on the Institutional Access and Inclusivity Committee. In my free time I like to read non-fiction books or articles, watch Gilmore Girls, play with my dogs, and spend time with my loved ones.

Fun facts about you:

  • My eye color varies between blue and green, and typically depends on what color shirt I’m wearing.
  • I’m a full Trojan family! My twin sister and older brother graduated from USC with their bachelor’s degrees, my dad is currently on faculty in the Price School of Public Policy, and my mom is an honorary Trojan.
  • I love to travel, and constantly update my Travel Bucket List (currently I hope to visit all seven continents!).

Tip for prospective students:
Stay calm, stay engaged, and do your homework! You are deserving of attending any graduate program you apply to, so always remember that during your applications. Also, proactively research the programs you are interested in. Each institution has a unique approach to similar degree programs, so research the school’s mission, curriculum, faculty, and available opportunities to help you decide which program is best fit for you.


Kris Higgins

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Bakersfield, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): California State University, Bakersfield
Undergrad Major(s): Liberal Studies with a minor in Sociology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud first-generation student and a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am the first person in my family to obtain a bachelor’s degree and pursue a master’s degree.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to go into academic advising. After taking some of my graduate courses here at USC Rossier, I’ve found that I want to work specifically with the student-athlete population. Down the line, I would like to obtain an EdD.

Why did you choose USC?
I choose USC because of the emphasis on equity. This was important to me because as a future student affairs professional, I want to provide support for all students regardless of their backgrounds. Also, the support at USC was impeccable from the start. You are constantly kept up to date with important information and the help with transitioning to graduate school was amazing!

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I have valued the personal connections that I’ve made throughout my time here. From the amazing faculty and staff to my cohort members, the bonds that are created just from being at USC is something I will cherish for a lifetime.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am currently working as an Academic Mentor for the UCLA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics: Academic & Student Services. Also, I have been a volunteer for the Special Olympics of Southern California for 4 years now.

Fun facts about you:

  • Volleyball is my favorite sport.
  • I love anything involving superheroes.
  • People have said that I have a contagious laugh that sounds like a dolphin.

Tip for prospective students:
Find programs that align with your values and goals. Take your time researching the programs. Creating a pros and cons list of each one will help you narrow down your choices. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask clarifying questions during the application process. Everyone at USC is helpful and understands the difficulties of applying to graduate school.


Berenice Contreras

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Porterville, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): California State University, Long Beach
Undergrad Major(s): Liberal Studies emphasis in Education Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation Latina. My parents came to America after having my three brothers. They have instilled in me to work for what you want. Attending USC is something I thought I could only dream of!

Future plans and career goals:
I love many aspects of higher education, but as of now my main career goal is to work as an academic advisor in either a 2-year or 4-year college. In the future I would like to explore sorority and fraternity life, as an alum Delta Gamma.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC, because of its welcoming community and the immediate sense of belonging. The staff and faculty are extremely helpful. I met a few PASA students who had similar education goals and made me feel reassured.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I have felt so integrated with my cohort and instructors, even in a virtual setting. I have been consistently inspired by the faculty and my classmates. There is such an amazing sense of community. I took three years off after my bachelor’s degree and defiantly had to learn how to be a student again. This program and faculty have been great in helping the transition!

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am currently the Administrative Support Coordinator for the Honors Program at Long Beach State. I am a lover of museums, picnics, yoga, and Southern California exploration. I have 6 nieces and nephews which I spend all the time I can with.

Fun facts about you:

  • My favorite hobby is picnicking.
  • I am obsessed with margarita pizzas.
  • I love concerts and have seen all my favorite artists live!

Tip for prospective students:
The application process can be daunting, but don’t feel afraid to ask questions. We are here and happy to help! Try to create deadlines prior to the official deadlines. Ask for Letters of Recommendation early!


Danelle Go

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: San Leandro, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): UC Santa Cruz
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology w/ Education Minor

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
Growing up as an only child, I always found myself wanting to build connections with others and being a part of spaces where I felt like I belonged. I was always a part of student clubs and organizations because I enjoyed having a support system and sense of community. I realized how powerful being a part of a community you identify with can be, and how it can really provide you with resources and opportunities that support your growth.

Along the way, I met many people of diverse backgrounds who played as role models and mentors in my life. They saw the potential in me, advised me, and helped me get through adversities and successes. Because of those relationships and experiences, it has fueled my passion and interest for working with students and providing them the support and guidance that was given to me. Transitioning into college can come with its challenges and because of the people that have empowered me and inspired me, my goal is to do the same for others.

Future plans and career goals:
To be quite honest, I am still figuring it out – and that’s okay! During undergrad I had such diverse experiences, that I love so many functional areas of student affairs. As of right now, I am looking into fraternity and sorority life advising, working within student conduct, or student life/campus activities – with an emphasis on advising and supporting multicultural student organizations. Later on, I am looking into pursuing a doctorate degree in education (Ed.D) focused on educational leadership, in hopes of one day becoming a Dean of Student Life or Student Affairs.

Why did you choose USC?
The moment I saw the mission statement of USC Rossier School of Education, it resonated with me on so many levels. During my search and application process, I talked to faculty, current and past student ambassadors, and PASA alumni, and hearing about their stories and experiences helped affirm my decision to apply.

I felt like USC and my specific program was going to well-prepare me to go out into the field. From the extensive resources, the diverse faculty and staff, the offered curriculum, and the wide range of opportunities, I knew that this is where I wanted to grow and learn. Also, I definitely wanted to be a part of the strong Trojan network!

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The strength of this community is real. Before, during, and after the application process I have always felt supported and valued. I value the diversity in faculty, staff, and my cohort, and how our alignment to USC Rossier’s mission has brought us together in the fight for educational equity and change. Despite navigating virtual learning, I definitely see and feel the amount of effort and dedication everyone has put in to ensure a quality educational experience—this community wants you to succeed. I also value being in such a fun, inspiring, and supportive cohort.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies I am in a couple leadership positions within USC Rossier. I am the Assistant Director of Special Events with the PASA Network Board. Additionally, I am the Vice President of the USC Rossier Student Organization Council where I focus on bridging all school programs together through programming and events.

My current graduate assistantship is with USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering Undergraduate Programs and Women in Engineering office, and I love it! I am also in my third year as a national officer for Alpha Kappa Delta Phi Sorority Inc. where I have advised chapters across the west coast as a Regional Governor, to now being the current Expansion Advisor focused on expanding our organization to new universities across the U.S. and Canada.

In my free time I love playing volleyball and basketball, hiking, mixing music, playing board games, traveling, blogging, and having deep conversations about life over matcha lattes or boba. I also really enjoy meditating, walking through every aisle at Trader Joe’s, and playing with my two cats, Hiro and Luna.

Fun facts about you:

  • I absolutely love traveling. Whether it’s flying across the country or taking a road trip, traveling and experiencing new places and cultures brings me so much joy and fulfillment. Traveling to every continent is definitely on my bucket list.
  • I am working on becoming a DJ! Music has always been a huge part of my life—my stress reliever. You can always catch me on the aux cord. I definitely have a diverse music taste, which is reflected in the music I mix.
  • I am a major foodie. You will always catch me looking for new food spots and trying different cultural dishes. On top of that, I will ALWAYS have room for dessert and will literally go on a long drive just to eat something specific.

Tip for prospective students:
Breathe. Applications can be intimidating and can definitely take a lot of time and energy, but don’t forget to take care of yourself along the way. There are a lot of emotions that can emerge during and after applying; live through all of them. Allowing yourself to embrace your feelings can also contribute to the passion you put into your application.

Don’t hesitate to reach out! As a Student Ambassador, I am here for you. I am excited to hear your story, to talk about your experiences, and to do all that I can to support you through it all. There really are no silly questions, so ask away!

This is your time to reflect on all the amazing things you’ve done. Imposter syndrome is real and sometimes we don’t give ourselves the credit that we deserve, but know that you bring your own uniqueness to the table; you’ve earned your accomplishments. Remember, you are and always will be more than enough.


Nathaniel Edds

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Singapore, Singapore
Undergrad Institution(s): Denison University
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
Before starting at USC, I served with AmeriCorps for two years in Portland, Oregon as a college adviser with College Possible. Before my undergraduate program, I never lived in the United States despite my American citizenship.

Future plans and career goals:
I am passionate about supporting students in their academic, personal, and professional aspirations, and I am keen to serve in a role where I can develop strong relationships with students. I hope to work and live somewhere with beautiful nature and a tightly knit community!

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of the community fostered by the institution. It was clear to me that the community created in the PASA program was one of collaboration and authentic care for one another. Similarly, it was evident that the same community support continues after graduation throughout the Trojan network.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I am immensely grateful for the professors I have. Every professor has amazing world-class experience that provides incredibly relevant insight into the content presented in class. It is also undeniably clear that my professors care about their students’ learning and are genuine in their desire to be accessible.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am involved with CollegePoint where I volunteer as a college adviser working with high school students and their college applications. I am also passionate about the outdoors and spend my free time surfing and hiking!

Fun facts about you:

  • I have my advanced scuba diving certification
  • I am an avid music listener
  • I am a bird lover
  • I love to grill

Tip for prospective students:
Take your time and have fun with your essay. It is a great opportunity to reflect on your life, your experiences, and your goals. By thinking thoughtfully about the essay’s prompt and your life experiences, you can have a more authentic and insightful piece of writing that can also inform your own goals and passions.


Hsin Yu (Annie) Chiang

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Undergrad Institution(s): New York University
Undergrad Major(s): Social Work with a minor in Communications

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am the first in my family to graduate college and pursue a master’s degree. I went to school in three different countries and I’m very used to adapting to different environments.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan on pursuing a career in academic advising, potentially becoming an Academic Advisor to advise more students in navigating college and provide more insights like my previous adviser did.

Why did you choose USC?
While working for the USC College Advising Corps, I met a few current students in the PASA program who shared their experiences studying at USC Rossier; it seemed like a place that I would love. USC Rossier’s mission really aligns with my professional career goals in supporting students in advancing educational equity. After attending Prospective Students Day, I was more certain that the program’s curriculum really speaks to my interests (plus, the faculty members were all welcoming and supportive).

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I value the sense of community and support among my cohort. The knowledge, experience, and insight that the professors provide really help me gain a better understanding of higher education.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently work as a Graduate Advisor for my graduate assistantship with USC Annenberg School’s Advising department.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have traveled to 9 countries, and counting!
  • I have moved to 5 different cities in 4 different countries until now
  • I love playing board games

Tip for prospective students:
Believe in yourself and plan ahead! Do your research and check to see what each different program entails. You want to make sure that the program curriculum speaks to your interests and can help you explore areas that you want to explore. Prepare your application to have it ready for the first-round deadline. It will be helpful to have application materials ready a week or two in advance of the deadline. Build connections with current students and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions!


Jesse Magaña

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Ceres, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of San Diego
Undergrad Major(s): Sociology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am the youngest of 4 children and a first-generation student. When I graduated with my bachelor’s, I became the first in my immediate and extended family to receive a diploma.

Future plans and career goals:
After graduation in May, I hope to pursue a PhD. Ultimately, I want to pursue diversity work at a higher education institution.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I wanted to learn from faculty who were driving conversations around social justice issues within their industry.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I have really valued my connections with my cohort. We’ve had to get creative as we are virtual, but we have truly been able to engage and support each other in what has been an interesting year academically.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies I hold two graduate assistantships, one at USC in the Admission Center and one at CSU Domiguez Hills with Associated Students Inc. I also serve as the Alumni Advisor for my fraternity.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have 12 nieces and nephews.
  • I used to work for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida.
  • When I’m not sitting behind the computer for class or work, I’m probably at Dutch Bros. (NorCal folks know)

Tip for prospective students:
There are three things you should think of when you are applying to programs:
Number 1: Look past an institution’s prestige and popularity. Determine how you will be supported as a graduate student, how accessible the faculty are, and how the program will support your professional development.
Number 2: Make sure you are coming into the application process as your most true and authentic self. If you find yourself changing who you are to fit the institution you are applying to, then odds are that the institution probably isn’t the place for you.
Number 3: The imposter syndrome is real, and it can present itself in the application process. You may feel like you don’t belong. The truth is you are meant to be exactly where you are. Remember that if you start to second-guess yourself.


Brandon Garcia

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Huntington Park, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): UCLA
Undergrad Major(s): Biology, minors in Global Health and Chicano Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I grew up in a low-income household in Southeast Los Angeles and identify as Latino and Mexican-American. I am the first in my family to graduate from college and pursue a graduate degree.

Future plans and career goals:
After graduating I plan on applying to Ph.D. programs in California. In the future, I want to conduct research as a faculty member and be a part of a medical school’s executive leadership team.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of the idyllic campus environment and culture. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I was welcomed by such an amazing and welcoming community— the Trojan Family! I was also captivated by the idea of being taught by a diverse group of faculty members that are well recognized in their fields and having access to research centers working on projects to advance equity and social justice for minoritized communities.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I love how supportive and approachable my professors are. I also enjoy being able to apply the knowledge and theory from my classes into my everyday practice as a student affairs officer.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am currently working as a Student Affairs Officer at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. I am also a Research Intern at USC’s Center for Education, Identity and Social Justice and a USC Norman Topping Fellow. I occasionally work per diem as an Ophthalmic Technician for an Ophthalmologist and Vitreo-Retinal Surgeon.

Fun facts about you:

  • I’ve ran the LA Marathon multiple times
  • I love creating architectural design plans for buildings
  • I’ve snorkeled with bioluminescent plankton
  • I’ve been stung by a sea urchin

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to reach out to current students and ask them about their experiences! I know it may sound intimidating, but trust me, students are always willing to help and provide you with their raw and unfiltered student experience. Who knows, you might find yourself a new mentor or friend!


Nancy Nava

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Covina, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): UC Santa Barbara
Undergrad Major(s): Political Science and Global Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
My start in higher education was actually in university advancement. I was able get a taste of what alumni relations, fundraising, recruitment, and strategic planning were all about. While my role was typically responsible for establishing relationships with individuals external to the institution, it was the first time I had the opportunity to foster understanding and support for students.

Future plans and career goals:
My future plans are to continue my education and get my PhD. Career wise, I want to stay in student affairs and focus on student retention, specifically with first-generation underrepresented students

Why did you choose USC?
USC has always been my dream school. I chose USC because of Rossier’s mission statement: “to prepare leaders to achieve educational equity… and to address disparities that affect historically marginalized groups.”

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
This has definitely been a unique time to be a graduate student. Getting to know my cohort only through online platforms is different than what I expected but I value their transparency, strength, and support. My professors have made sure to create such a safe and interactive learning environment despite the circumstances.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am a Judicial Hearing Officer for the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards at USC. I am also the Community Outreach Director for the Latinx Graduate Student Association this year. I spend the rest of my time working out, running, cooking, and traveling as much as I can.

Fun facts about you:

  • I am a first-generation college student; Spanish was my first language.
  • I traveled abroad twice during my undergrad: Madrid and Rome!

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. Take your time to research, as not every program is going to fit your needs and wants. If you’re working full time, be transparent with your supervisor if possible; they can be a big support system. And most importantly, don’t sell yourself short; know your worth!


Karen Ceballos Pineda

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Inglewood, California
Undergrad Institution(s): Kalamazoo College
Undergrad Major(s): Anthropology & Sociology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation college student. I started working in higher education as an admission tour guide my first year of college and now I’m an Assistant Director of Admission at a private university.

Future plans and career goals:
I have many interests within student affairs. I am also thinking of pursing a doctoral degree.

Why did you choose USC?
In addition to USC’s location and the Rossier mission, I choose USC because PASA was the only program that made me feel that I belong.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Despite only experiencing USC virtually, I value the consistent community and support from the Rossier department and my cohort.

What are you involved in outside your studies?

Fun facts about you:

  • I love coffee!
  • I am an avid reader and my favorite genres are poetry and fiction.
  • One of my favorite places in the world is the beach.

Tip for prospective students:
Create an excel sheet with the programs you are interested in, so you can keep track of deadlines, costs, and admission events to attend. Ask questions whether it’s about the admission process, financial aid, or specific program questions. Email people, call offices. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and get the answers you need.


Kristin Robbio

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Escondido, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): Chapman University
Undergrad Major(s): Health Sciences

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
While I always knew I loved the sciences, I entered college as an International Business major — the first of four I’d take on during my undergraduate career — but never truly connected with any academic program. I found my greatest fulfillment in the student positions I held in residence life, admission, and university services. By the time I’d graduated, I came to realize that what I really loved was education itself. Upon my graduation from the Rossier School of Education at USC, I will be the first in my family to attain a Master’s degree.

Future plans and career goals:
I’m still exploring which path I’d like to take, but as of now, I hope to pursue a career as a Dean of Students or a similar position related to university crisis management. I am also considering work in education policy and the possibility of pursuing a doctoral degree.

Why did you choose USC?
The mission of Rossier resonated with me as I navigated the graduate school search process. USC’s dedication to equity and inclusion is evident in multiple facets of the institution, and I wanted to be a part of it. I felt that USC would most successfully support me not only as a current student, but beyond graduation and well into my career.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Both the faculty and staff are some of the most dedicated and supportive people I’ve ever met. It’s clear the faculty are true practitioners of their field, and the staff are always knowledgeable and ready to help.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently work full-time in USC’s Office of Undergraduate Admission. Outside of school and work, I have been involved with a variety of professional organizations and advised a local chapter of a Panhellenic sorority. I’m also a USC football season ticket holder, dedicated plant mom, and love to bake!

Fun facts about you:

  • I have a tattoo of a serotonin molecule on my left wrist.
  • I am a die-hard fan of any competitive reality TV show. (Big Brother is my favorite!)
  • Frozen grapes, ice cream cake, and my dad’s potato salad are my all-time favorite foods.
  • During my time at Chapman University, I was the Executive Producer of a student production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

Tip for prospective students:
There is no expectation that you should be navigating this process alone. Please reach out to the Rossier team for help! Don’t be afraid to ask any question. Seek out and lean on support systems both at USC and within your own networks to prepare yourself for your graduate school journey.


Cristian Castro

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: South Central, Los Angeles
Undergrad Institution(s): California State University, Northridge
Undergrad Major(s): English, Creative Writing and a minor in Child and Adolescent Development

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
My involvement as an Academic Mentor for the Educational Opportunity Program at California State University, Northridge determined my career choice. Supporting students in academic services came to me naturally and I decided to pursue it. At the moment, I am employed by UCLA Academic and Student Services, as an Academic Mentor supporting student athletes. As well, I’m employed by the East Los Angeles Foundation as a Cal-SOAP Student Success Coach for High School students at Linda Marquez High School.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan to keep an open mindset. Currently, my short-term goal is to obtain a full-time position in student affairs as an Academic Advisor for first-generation college students or student athletes. Also, find a part-time position as an instructor. My long-term goal is to be a Dean or a President of a University.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I grew up in the area. I would drive by in the passenger seat of my parent’s Honda Accord 99’ and I never thought I could attend. Then I attended the USC Rossier Program Mixer for prospective students. I was anxious because I was out of my comfort zone. Then I noticed a diverse community of individuals reaching similar goals. Now I am a Salvadorian Latinx first-generation graduate student at USC who was born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The cohort is like one big family. The Rossier faculty are helpful and understanding. The USC network is a great way for future opportunities.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
On the side, I am a Digital Media Intern for a Radio Show on SiriusXM. Whenever I get the chance I enjoy sunset hikes and the beach with my friends and family.

Fun facts about you:

  • I was a soccer coach for Middle School students
  • Favorite show as a child was Pokémon
  • I love ramen
  • I could dance to any type of music

Tip for prospective students:
Make sure to choose classes that best interest you. Don’t be shy and ask all the questions you may have. Be open to learning about all the opportunities in higher education. Get experience and apply to multiple assistantships. Getting out of your comfort zone and exploring your options will only improve your personal development.


Kaytlin Abad

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): Sonoma State University
Undergrad Major(s): Communication and Media Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
The student leadership experiences I gained through residential life, campus recreation, and greek life as an undergraduate ultimately affected my decisions to pursue a career in higher education and student affairs. Although these positions varied in experience, together they allowed me to discover my true passion for leadership and advocacy for student success in postsecondary institutions.

Future plans and career goals:
Departments in relation to on campus student life and campus programming for students play a huge role in the student retention rate at institutions of higher education. With that being said, I hope to find myself working in campus departments like student life, student involvement, student life, etc. to help students build and find their own respective communities on their campuses. From there I hope to further my education to receive a doctoral degree and hopefully become a Vice President or Dean of Student Affairs.

Why did you choose USC?
Attending USC has always been my dream, largely because of my alumni family members. Besides that, the diversity of the faculty members along with their visible passion for student success and respective topics of focus are also contributing factors. In addition, the PASA program’s learning and career outcomes are very much aligned with my career goals in relation to student affairs and promoting student advocacy at a four-year institution.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Although I started my program online and amidst a global pandemic, I have really valued the connections made between some of my cohort mates as well as the faculty members. USC has a variety of platforms that make it really seamless for students to connect with one another even during this day and age of social distancing. Although nothing beats the in person and on campus experience, COVID-19 had no impact on the quality of my education.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently hold a position in the USC Campus Activities department where I serve as one of the Graduate Advisors with USC Undergraduate Student Government. I am also serving as a virtual Graduate Assistant for the Student Involvement department at my undergraduate institution, Sonoma State University.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love watching TV. I would rather choose to rewatch my favorite TV shows or movies on repeat over finding new things to watch.
  • To counteract my time spent watching TV, I also love working out. My days are better when I start them off with a good cycling, kickboxing, or circuit workout.
  • I value the time I get to spend with my friends and family.

Tip for prospective students:
Make sure you have a clear sense of what you want to get out of your graduate program and don’t let imposter syndrome affect your program decision. Life gets rough, so stay positive and take the time to make yourself a priority!


Yesenia Nava

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Westminster, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of California, Santa Barbara
Undergrad Major(s): Environmental Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation student and that identity has shaped all of my college experiences. I have also worked and volunteered in public education systems in southern California, Chicago, and Denver and have learned so much about how public education has evolved to attempt to meet the needs of today’s students. As I now transition into working within higher education, I’m able to apply this prior knowledge to develop a deeper understanding of education as a whole.

Future plans and career goals:
I hope to one day be the Director of a Student Affairs department. I would love to work with underrepresented and marginalized communities and provide resources for these students to succeed in college,

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I was impressed with the diversity in faculty and with the curriculum. Equity and diversity in education are really important to me and I was impressed by how USC practiced those values. I also know that finding a job is getting harder and harder, and I wanted to attend a university that could set me up with a strong network of people to connect with after I graduate.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I feel valued here by the staff and the people in my cohort. Everyone came into this experience with positive energy and with the desire to make the most out of it. It has helped a lot as we’ve all been trying to navigate these unprecedented circumstances and I appreciate how everyone is trying to adapt.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I volunteer with the USC organization Teach for Los Angeles, and every Saturday I help tutor students from the local community. I also volunteer with the Neighborhood Academic Initiative through USC where I get to help high school students edit their college application essays, fill out their FAFSA, and generally provide assistance with the college application process. I am an avid reader and lover of books and knowledge and I participate in learning circles and a book club through the public library.

Fun facts about you:
I’m obsessed with libraries! I love reading in libraries, about libraries, and overall talking about how great libraries are and how they are one of the few institutions left that provide free services and spaces for everyone. I also studied abroad in India and Bardados and have lived in Chicago and Denver. This is my first year living in California since 2016.

Tip for prospective students:
Before you even pick a school, make a list of things you want from your program. This helped me out a lot when making my decision. I was able to look into the programs that accepted me for what they had to offer instead of just focusing on the name and status. Also, reach out to someone! There is always going to be someone who is willing to help you and answer your questions.


Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)

Back to top

Abigail Garcia

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Panorama City, CA
Undergrad Institution: Los Angeles Valley College and UC San Diego
Undergrad Major: B.A in Sociology – Social Inequalities and a Minor in Education Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation college student and the first woman in my family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and pursue higher education.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan on working at the community college setting, although I am open to working at the four-year level.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of the role it’s played in my life. Although I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, I have family members who live right next to USC so I was always in the area. As a result, it feels rewarding to attend a school that I grew up near but never thought I would attend, and to be able to give back and be involved with the community that I grew up with.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I value the connection I have with my professors and the sense of community that the school offers. Although I can get overwhelmed at times, I can always turn to a professor, classmate, or colleague for insight and support.

Fun fact about you:

  • I am extremely proud of my Salvadoran culture and pride myself on being a Salvadoreña
  • I love working out and I was a boxer from the ages of 17-21
  • I love music and my go-to genres are hip hop and reggaeton
  • My favorite way to destress is by taking naps

One tip for prospective students:
Do not be afraid to reach out for help when applying to grad school. It is important to gain insight and receive different perspectives.


Rosalva Isidoro

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution: Santa Monica College and University of California, Los Angeles
Undergrad Major: English, Double Minors in Chicana/o Studies and Labor and Workplace Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I was born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles. I am a first- generation, Latina, low-income, transfer student. I have four sisters, one brother and my parents are from Puebla, Mexico. I’m the first one in my family to pursue a master’s degree.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to become a Community College counselor, however I am open to K-12 counseling as well. I am thinking of pursuing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership.

Why did you choose USC and what have you valued the most about your experience here?
I chose USC because of its proximity to my home, it’s prestigious name, the curriculum, and the Trojan family.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
I have valued my cohort experience, the professors in my program, as well as the relationships that I’m establishing with students at work.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am currently working as an Academic Coach for the USC Kortschak Center For Learning And Creativity. I also work with my parents on Sundays; we are street vendors and sell barbacoa. I make handmade, laminated floral bookmarks as a hobby and sell them to fund my graduate studies!

Fun facts about you:

  • I am aiming to read a book of my interest per month!
  • I have attended seven concerts this year so far!
  • I have a big sweet tooth (favorite chocolate is Ferrero Rocher)
  • My favorite artist is Kendrick Lamar and band is Radiohead

Tip for prospective students:
Work and submit your application on the first round if possible, and do not be afraid to ask any questions regarding the application, program, or student experience. Build strong connections with your cohort, staff and faculty. Get involved on campus, use the resources available to you and take care of yourself emotionally and physically.


Kevin Liu

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Arcadia and Guangzhou, China
Undergrad Institution: Pasadena City College, UCLA
Undergrad Major: Anthropology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I was born in China and I moved to California when I was five years old. I used to want to be a dentist, but decided that counseling was a better fit for me. I have gone on mission trips to serve a local church in Mexico twice, a dental mission trip to Honduras, and I have studied abroad in England.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to be a counselor in college, and potentially get an EdD.

Why did you choose USC?
I was sold on its excellence and appreciate that the school is clear on its mission. Plus, I liked the prospect of being a part of the Trojan Family, which would benefit me greatly professionally. Through Preview Days, I knew that USC was a secure choice and that I will do great things through the help of the school.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
I love the classes! These are all topics that interest me, and I enjoy being around people who are passionate about counseling as well. The professors are very approachable, and I benefit from hearing about their experiences in the field.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am currently an International Success Coach at Pasadena City College. I am also a member of Chinese Christian Family Church, where I serve as a youth counselor, mentor, and a Bible study teacher, as well as a brother to my church family. I also like to boulder.

Fun facts about you:

  • I am a certified scuba diver
  • I was a part of a contemporary dance company in high school called Orchesis Dance company. I also was a bboy (break dancer) for five years.
  • I love to read.
  • Sitting with a good posture (straight back) is comfortable for me, but apparently it stresses people out. So, I instead intentionally assume a “relaxed” position when I am around people to make them more comfortable and willing to talk.

Tip for prospective students:
Collaborate with people! This is a profession that requires teamwork, so the same should apply to being a graduate student. As you are applying for schools, ask people for help. Talk to trusted people and ask them to tell you your weaknesses and strengths. Also, have conversations with people where you share your intention on applying to school. These conversations will help you know what to write in your personal statement. Ask people to read your personal statement and to edit it. Do not be an island!


Alex Luong

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2023
Hometown: Alhambra, CA
Undergrad Institution: California State University, Northridge
Undergrad Major: Psychology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I’m a first-Generation college student who had a two-year gap after high school. Originally I was a Kinesiology major. My mom was a refugee from Cambodia during the Cambodian Genocide.

Future plans and career goals:
Become a counselor at a community college. Potentially work towards another degree. Would love to be a professor someday

Why did you choose USC?
After attending a prospective student event at USC, I was able to experience what a class session would be like and enjoyed how it was both lecture and discussion-based. In addition, I was able to research and see that USC Rossier does believe in their mission statement of advancing educational equity through the populations they research and programs designed to help underrepresented and underserved communities

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The most valuable thing about my experience at USC Rossier so far is the relationships I have been able to make with my professors. All of my professors are professionals who hold different positions throughout many different fields and levels in higher education. It means so much to me to hear and learn about their experiences in leadership roles and also in roles that I hope to fulfill someday. All of my professors care about me in more ways than just a student and it really shows through their teaching style and mentorship

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am currently an undergraduate advisor at UCLA where I help students with educational plans, academic decisions, and all of the other areas that make up the college experience

Fun facts about you:
I am the host of a podcast called “Stuff I Wish They Taught Me” and I love watching nature documentaries

Tip for prospective students:

  • Take the time to get to know your cohort
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new or talk to someone you have never talked to before
  • Reciprocate with your professors. Learn from them, but also teach them about yourself
  • Love yourself—because you deserve it

Antonio Huezo

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: East Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): East Los Angeles College and California State University of Los Angeles
Undergrad Major(s): Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation student. I began my education as a transfer student where I am now the first in my family in pursuing a master’s degree. Through adversity, I will often say that my commitment and passion for higher education will help me continue and strive for success.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to become a counselor for a two-year institution. I plan on working with first-generation undergraduate students. I also want to pursue the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program and become a leader in higher education.

Why did you choose USC?
The reason I chose USC was because of its community, faculty and students. USC is the only school where I immediately felt a family atmosphere. I felt empowered and confident in every step of the process.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The amazing faculty go above and beyond to help you. Classes teach lifelong lessons you will use going into your field and you gain tons of experience through it all.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am involved in serving and advocating for the nearby communities and an USC Rossier student ambassador!

Fun facts about you:

  • I love to watch various sports and enjoy playing video games on my spare time.
  • I love to cook and try out new recipes.
  • One day I want to travel all around the world.

Tip for prospective students:
Do not allow yourself to be intimidated. Reach out for help when needed. Allow yourself plenty of time to finish assignments before deadlines. Create meaningful connections with your cohort and faculty. Remember to practice self-care when things get rough and don’t forget to Fight On!


Sarah Reyes

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Highland Park, Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution: Occidental College
Undergrad Major: Latino/a and Latin American Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a First-Generation Latina. While most people
go away to college, the school I chose was only one mile away from home. I lived on campus my four years there and would mostly go home just for the holidays.

Future plans and career goals:
As of right now I would like to be a counselor in either a 2-year
or 4-year college. I am also interested in working at a cultural center at a small liberal arts school like the one I attended.

Why did you choose USC?
While working for the USC College Advising Corps, I met many current students in the Educational Counseling Program and I felt like this was the perfect place to continue my education. I also saw the value in being part of the Trojan Family.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
I like the cohort model of the program and how open everyone is. The faculty also seem really helpful and supportive.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I have a small business where I create jewelry and accessories. On the weekends I go to events throughout the city to share my art with others.

Fun facts about you:

  • My dog, Zero, is named after the ghost dog in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • I love to paint, but I don’t know how to draw.
  • I own over 300 books.

Tip for prospective students:
Reach out if you have any questions about the application process or about the program itself. Everyone is really nice and helpful and would love to talk to you!


Guadalupe Torres

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): Cypress College and CSULB
Undergrad Major(s): B.A. Sociology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud first-gen student and the first to attend graduate school in my family. My family’s immense support drives me to be the best I can be and give back to my community.

Future plans and career goals:
I desire to work at a two-year community college and work with underrepresented students, although I am open to working at a four-year institution as well.

Why did you choose USC?
To be part of this Trojan family is simply an honor. But what drew me in was the diverse faculty and student population within the Education Counseling (EC) program.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I value the passion and desire that the faculty have for their students. Also, my cohort has added value to my education and experience. I am amazed and grateful to be surrounded by driven individuals who share a passion for helping students in their higher education journey.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Aside from being a student ambassador, I am a full-time worker, mom, and wife. I enjoy giving back to my community and serving underrepresented populations.

Fun facts about you:

  1. I enjoy finding new coffee shops!
  2. I studied abroad in Havana, Cuba.
  3. I love going to spin classes as a form of self-care.

Tip for prospective students:
Applying to graduate school shouldn’t be stressful; it should be exciting! This is where you will potentially be learning and growing for the next two years. Therefore, ask questions and attend info sessions to familiarize yourself with your program of interest. The USC Rossier Office of Admission and Scholarships are extremely helpful throughout this process. Also, be proud of yourself for thinking of continuing onto graduate school! Lastly, don’t forget to practice self-care.


Mary Rivas

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2023
Hometown: South LA, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of Southern California
Undergrad Major(s): B.A. in Contemporary Latino and Latin American Studies, Minor in Global Health

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I was raised in a single-parent household in South Central Los Angeles, which means I did not have to travel far from home for undergrad or grad school. However, that pushes my curiosity to explore different places. I am the oldest of three children, and I am a first-generation Latina student that wants to help underrepresented students.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to work with first-generation students to help them achieve their goals at a four-year private or public institution. Hopefully one day I can become a director of a first-generation student center. I might eventually pursue an EdD program.

Why did you choose USC?
I am a Trojan for life! I grew up in the area and USC has had a huge impact on my educational journey and in my community; it also helps that I currently work full time at USC. The school offers vast resources its students; it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy being a Trojan.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
My professors, cohort, and staff are so genuine. My professors have been really great at creating a safe space for students to feel comfortable, allowing us to share our experiences and thoughts. My colleagues have been really supportive of each other, and through the admissions process, staff were really helpful and willing to answer my questions.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am currently a campaign leader for the Good Neighbors Campaign which is led by staff and faculty to raise funds for various non-profit organizations in the South LA community. I am also a novice runner; I love to run and I have been incorporating it to my schedule as part of my self-care routine.

Fun facts about you:

  • I used to roller skate as a child so I picked it back up recently; it’s been fun not falling.
  • I love watching new movie releases in the movie theaters. But for now I’ve been happy watching new releases on streaming platforms.
  • My cartilage in my right knee is torn for life due to a soccer scrimmage game a couple years ago, so when I am older I will probably have to stay away from cold weather.

Tip for prospective students:
Ask questions. I think that deciding on a program can be overwhelming so asking students about their experiences from programs you are considering is very helpful, and can help guide you in choosing the right path.


Ailene Huang

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Undergrad Institution(s): Glendale Community College, University of Southern California
Undergrad Major(s): East Asian Languages and Cultures, International Relations (minor)

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am multi-racial and had a multicultural upbringing, living in Taiwan until I was a teenager. I took a few years off before transferring to a 4-year college; for part of that time I was living and volunteering abroad in Australia. My background is mostly in community education program coordination and seminar facilitation. I am the first in my family to pursue a master’s degree.

Future plans and career goals:
I am still exploring if I’d like to work at a 2-year or 4-year institution as an advisor or counselor, but my overall goal is working directly with students to help them explore their goals, reflect on the purpose of their education, and assist them on their path.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because the curriculum tailors to both advising in a 4-year university and counseling in a 2-year community college. It’s a well-rounded program that allows me to explore my interests while gradually helping me to narrow my focus. Being a USC alum also helped to lift the stress of learning a new school and a new system. Also, having 3 application periods available to me made the program feel a lot more accessible.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I really value finding a community of people whom I feel connected to in values and purpose. It is empowering to be with like-minded peers and support each other in online learning and career development.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently am a graduate assistant with the First Generation Plus Success Center. I am part of the Bahá’í Faith and participate in various community-building activities, which include mentoring middle schoolers and collaborating with youth and young adults to raise their capacity to mentor the next generation in their communities.

Fun facts about you:
I love all types of Asian cuisines and desserts (currently trying to learn to cook some myself!). I like watching baseball games with my family. I love photography and being out in nature.

Tip for prospective students:

  • Talk to a student ambassador!
  • Think of the process of applying to graduate school as a learning experience; you don’t have to do it perfectly.
  • Take advantage of information sessions to get a clearer picture of the program.
  • Try not to let your finances prevent you from exploring potential opportunities.

Belen Bazan Delgado

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Wenatchee, WA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of Washington-Seattle
Undergrad Major(s): Sociology Minor in Education, Learning, and Society

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud Mexican-Guatemalan woman. I am a first-generation student and the first in my family to pursue a graduate degree. I originally wanted to pursue a career in dentistry, but during my undergraduate years I had the opportunity to work in various roles within the k-12 system and became passionate about helping students from underserved communities pursue their educational goals.

Future plans and career goals:
In the future, I plan to work as a counselor at a 2-year college and potentially pursue a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Urban Education leadership.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because my goals and values aligned with their mission statement. I admire USC’s commitment to preparing future leaders to fight for social justice and educational equity. I also wanted to be part of the Trojan Family, and I knew they would provide students with many resources and opportunities to grow academically, personally, and professionally.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I like our program’s cohort style and appreciate how supportive, encouraging, and caring my classmates are. Faculty and staff are very welcoming and approachable and have a vast amount of knowledge and experience. USC Rossier also provides many programming and opportunities for students to engage with other students and community members.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work full-time as a retention specialist for TRIO Student Support Services at a 2-year college. I also enjoy travelling, spending time with family/friends, walking my dog, and crafting.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love to travel and try to do it as often as possible. My top 3 trips so far Puerto Rico, Tahiti, and Spain.
  • I have a 3-year old French Bulldog named Remy.
  • I love to listen to music. My go-to genre is reggaeton.

Tip for prospective students:
Applying to grad school can be an intimidating process; I encourage you to do your research, ask questions about the application process and program, and prepare in advance! Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to faculty, staff, alumni, and current students. We are all friendly and happy to help you with any questions you may have.


Annie Villanueva

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Reseda, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): UC Riverside
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology and Education Minor

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud daughter of Peruvian immigrants and I am the first in my family to go to college. I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and I am the first in my family pursing a Master’s degree.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to become a community college counselor, however I am also open to work at 4 year institutions.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because the experiences will prepare myself for my future career.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
What I value the most is my connection with my professors and my cohort. I feel supported and can always communicate with them about anything that I am going through.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I work as an Academic Coach for the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity. Also, I help my family sell flowers on the weekends.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have an identical twin sister
  • I was in a Peruvian/Bolivian dance group for 2 years
  • I love doing my nails!

Tip for prospective students:
and always reach out for help! Connect with other students in your cohort. Professors are very approachable, and they want you to succeed so reach out to them as well.


Sarah Oh

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (EC)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Los Angeles
Undergrad Institution(s): Biola University
Undergrad Major(s): English Secondary Education

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:

  • I am a first-generation high school and college student.
  • I have attended and taught at private, public, and home schools.
  • I began my career as a teacher and then transitioned into various roles in higher education.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to become an academic/career advisor and am open to working with both high school and college students. I also want to pursue a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership or Global Education.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of its prestigious name and strong alumni network. USC Rossier’s mission to advance educational equity closely aligned with my values as well.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I love my cohort and the faculty in the EC program! They are all so approachable, passionate, and well-equipped. I also feel holistically supported as a graduate student. We have access to a variety of personal and professional development workshops that prepare us to be leaders in the field.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Along with being a Student Ambassador, I am working as a Graduate Assistant for the USC Research Gateway Scholars Program.

Fun facts about you:
I played harp for a UNICEF benefit concert. I enjoy listening to podcasts and watching vlogs. I love the beach and always have room for dessert.

Tip for prospective students:

  • Attend the informational webinars and mock classes to get a good overview of the program.
  • Start the application early. Give yourself plenty of time to gather supplementary documents and write the personal statement.
  • Connect with admissions staff and current student ambassadors.
  • Believe in yourself and enjoy the process! “Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go.”

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)

Back to top

Rachell Alger

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Sacramento, California
Undergrad Institution(s): CSU Long Beach
Undergrad Major(s): B.A. Child Development and Family Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I discovered my passion for working with children and families as a dance teacher in my late teens.

Future plans and career goals:
I hope to further define my style of integrated theoretical orientations, work for a public mental health agency to assist underserved populations, and explore public policies to strengthen mental health advocacy for all.

Why did you choose USC?
After speaking with a Student Ambassador and attending the interview day, I knew I could trust USC to provide me with a quality education. The educators in the MFT program are not only well experienced, but they also show us they care, and the community they strive to cultivate within the cohort is priceless.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I value my cohort the most. Starting graduate school during a pandemic, social justice uprising, and intense political climate has been extremely challenging. Knowing that we have each other to lean on during these tough times has been uplifting and special.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I like going to dog parks with my pup, doing Latin dance workouts, relaxing to lo-fi music, and watching the sunset at the beach.

Fun facts about you:
I recently became a dog mom to a rescued Basenji/Shephard, and I auditioned for Season 7 of So You Think You Can Dance.

Tip for prospective students:
This program is what you make of it. So, say “Yes!” to opportunities that are outside of your comfort zone, be open to unlearning some things, and most importantly, take care of your mental health. It starts with you.


Brooke Barker

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): Indiana University
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology and Criminal Justice

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
During my undergraduate experience at Indiana University, I was a research assistant in a social psychology research lab as well as a volunteer at the local Head Start preschool. I had the opportunity to spend a semester in London studying clinical psychology and was also heavily involved in fundraising for a local domestic violence shelter in Bloomington. Currently, I am a residential counselor at a mental health treatment center and this experience has sparked my passion for working with children and adolescents.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and to work with children and adolescents in a community mental health setting. My ultimate career goal is to open a private practice with a focus in therapy for children and adolescents with comorbid chronic conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes. I am also interested in taking my education abroad and potentially pursuing a PsyD in London.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I wanted to be a part of the Trojan Family. On interview day, I was surrounded by current students, alumni, and faculty that all made me feel at home and gave me a glimpse of what it was like to be a part of the Trojan community. I knew then that USC was a place that would provide constant support and comfort as well as help me excel in the academic and professional world.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I have really valued how accommodating and adaptive the faculty and staff have been throughout this time of major change. Despite classes and events being online, USC Rossier has done an amazing job of still making the program and curriculum feel intimate and understandable. I appreciate how hard the program is working to connect students and to create the Trojan Family feel despite the distance.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I am an avid traveler and love experiencing new environments. I also love going on long walks and runs, reading at parks, spending time at the beach, and pretty much anything you can do outside.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have traveled to over 20 countries
  • I have Type 1 Diabetes and love to connect with people in the diabetic community
  • I am a huge Harry Potter fan and have read all the books multiple times

Tip for prospective students:
Be yourself! Everyone comes from unique backgrounds and experiences and it is important to remain genuine, honest, and open during the application process and throughout the program. Being authentic will help you connect with faculty and students and help you gain the most that you can from this program.


Courtney Berck

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Undergrad Institution: University of Southern California
Undergrad Major: Theatre

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I grew up as a performer and worked for a while as a voice over actress. I decided I wanted a career where I used more of my intellect and compassion so I came back to USC.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I would one day love to have my own private practice where I can work with clients dealing with anxiety in transitional periods of their lives. I want to help others deal with issues I have spent my own life figuring out.

Why did you choose USC?
Having gone to USC as an undergraduate, I already knew that I loved this community. I always had professors who believed in me, and one professor in particular served as my mentor and helped me with my application to graduate school. The Trojan family is so supportive, and it just felt right to come back to the place where I already received such an excellent education.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I appreciate the small and intimate class setting where I get to use my classmates’ experience to inform my future work with clients. I also appreciate the connections I have made so far with my professors. They are always there to lend an ear and help me through difficult times.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I love reading and am hoping to find a new book club soon. I am an avid TV watcher, and I love to craft.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love to cook and bake with my boyfriend.
  • I love country music.
  • I love playing board games.

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help (on your application or in your class). Graduate school relies on a lot more independent learning, but that does not mean you are on your own. Also, do your best to find a balance. Let yourself have fun with your friends and do the stuff that makes you happy. It makes all the hard work feel like nothing.


Jaylyn Broadway

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Inglewood, Ca but I spent most of my childhood in the Pasadena/Altadena area.
Undergrad Institution(s): UCLA
Undergrad Major(s): Gender Studies, Sociology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
During undergraduate I was an admissions coordinator for an Executive MBA Program. It was there I learned a lot about graduate school, admissions, and what programs look for in applicants.

Future plans and career goals:
In the future, after become licensed I plan to work in grief counseling and bereavement therapy, and am considering getting a Psy.D.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I loved what the program had to offer its students. I also found myself drawn to the MFT program mission statement as it reflected my own personal thoughts on therapy. Having lived 10 minutes from USC majority of my life, I chose USC to be closer to my community and learn/train in the same place I grew up.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Most of all, I’ve valued the relationships I’ve made with my program faculty and fellow cohort members. They are a source of academic, social, and personal support. I greatly value how comfortable and welcome I feel within the USC Rossier family. It’s easy to combat my imposter syndrome when I feel like I belong every step of the way.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I’m currently a Mental Health Technician at a residential treatment center. I take great pride in being an essential worker.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love junk food, it’s my form of self-care
  • I’m an avid Golden Girls fan! I’ve seen the entire series over 10 times.
  • I really love classical music and listening to movie scores

Tip for prospective students:
Ask, ask, ask! Don’t be scared to reach out and get answers to your questions. Utilize every resource you have available!


Monica Chernoff

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Palos Verdes, California
Undergrad Institution(s): Occidental College
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
Before coming into this program, I had various experiences such as working with non-profits, conducting research, and being involved in athletics! For example, I worked at the local community helpline for over six years and did independent research throughout all my years in college. I also played college water polo and represented the Philippine National Water Polo Team recently.

Future plans and career goals:
My career goals include becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist, doing college counseling, and owning my private practice one day. Currently, I am interested working with many populations such as couples, athletes, and college students struggling with anxiety and/or sleep disorders.

Why did you choose USC?
After interview day, I felt confident that USC was the best fit for me and would be able to help me accomplish my career goals of becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. Although there are many MFT programs in Los Angeles, USC was one of the most impressive and reputable programs. I also was impressed by the faculty members and current students. USC has exceeded my expectations so far and I am so proud to be a part of the Trojan family.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
Although my graduate school experience has been online so far, I value the sense of community and trust in this program. The faculty has been so supportive and accommodating during these difficult times.
I also ovalue the support and acceptance from my cohort members. I have learned just as much from my cohort and it has been wonderful growing together through this program.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work part-time at the USC Volunteer Center under Campus Activities. I help run their social media, organize virtual volunteer opportunities, and plan conferences/ programs with other USC students. I truly love my job and working with USC college students. In addition, I love to hang out with my family and friends, do yoga, swim, and strength-training.

Fun facts about you:
I am a bronze-medalist of the 2019 South East Asian Games while representing the Philippines. My favorite type of music is alternative/ indie pop, and my two favorite animals are pigs and corgis.

Tip for prospective students:
Be yourself! When you do interviews and start writing your essays, embrace who you really are. During the application process and in graduate school, make the most of your experiences. Ask questions, engage in conversations, make connections with those around you, and have an open mind.


Rachel Compton

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): George Washington University
Undergrad Major(s): Human Services and Social Justice

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I always thought I wanted to be a teacher so I took internships and jobs that focused on education. It wasn’t until I took a volunteer position as a GED tutor for adults at a Maryland County Jail that got me interested in psychology and therapy based on my conversations with the students.

Future plans and career goals:
I am interested in working therapeutically with adolescents navigating the juvenile justice system whether that be in group homes, rehabilitation centers or jails. I hope to one day open up a private practice and work on a team of therapists with a variety of backgrounds working with adolescents and adults.

Why did you choose USC?
The community USC fosters with its current students and alumni is something that always drew me to the school and then specifically the MFT program. The diverse student population and unique backgrounds stood out to me on my Interview Day, and my conversations with the faculty solidified my desire to become a part of this incredible community.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The faculty go above and beyond for their students. They truly care for the well-being and betterment in each and every one of our academic and professional careers. I am constantly in awe of how every member of my cohort is always there for each other both inside and outside the classroom. We are all dedicated to fostering a safe and educational space for us to learn and grow from.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
When I am not studying for my own exams, I am a tutor for elementary and middle school students in the South Bay. I am an avid runner and beach bum who loves anything to do with sports, the outdoors and hanging with my family and friends.

Fun facts about you:

  • According to a family tree made for my dad’s family, I am a long-lost cousin of Abraham Lincoln
  • Country music is all you will find me listening to
  • I want to open up a family restaurant or food truck one day

Tip for prospective students:
Believe in yourself and what you know you can accomplish and never settle. I never imagined I would study at USC for graduate school but here I am. Don’t be afraid to ask that last question. The more you inquire, the more you will learn. And lastly but most importantly, trust your classmates and your faculty. They are there to help build you up.


Monica Dornick

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Carlsbad, CA
Undergrad Institution: UCLA
Undergrad Major: Geography

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard, working the beaches of LA for the past 5 years. Also was a member of the UCLA Women’s Swim Team, and an All-American Swimmer.

Future plans and career goals:
I hope to work with women, couples, and sexual violence survivors in the community. I hope to help others overcome generational family trauma. My ultimate goal is to open a private practice, incorporating mindfulness into my practice, and/or potentially pursuing a PhD.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of the close-knit community and the amazing resources the school provides. I also really admire and respect the faculty of the MFT program and the USC Rossier mission of social justice and responsibility.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The helpfulness of the faculty and the culture of the program. Every member of my cohort is committed to not only bettering themselves but the community as well and I am constantly finding inspiration from the faculty and my peers. Our professors are as equally committed to fostering growth among our cohort as well, which has been so positively transformative thus far.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am a Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard as well as a Junior Lifeguard Instructor. Currently, I am a Teacher’s Aide for a 2nd grade class in the South Bay. I’m an avid yogi, ocean and mountain enthusiast, and try to watch the sunset every single day (when I’m not in class of course).

Fun facts about you:

  • I occasionally compete in bodysurfing competitions and other ocean related events like open water swims
  • First saw snow in real life at 23 and now the mountains are some of my most favorite places
  • My favorite bands include Alt-J and Sylvan Esso

Tip for prospective students:
Believe that you deserve to be here and view yourself as interviewing the school just as much as they are inquiring about you. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you want to ask. Probably most importantly, connect with the current students and faculty. Personally, taking a more humanistic approach to the application process allowed my authenticity to shine through and let the faculty see how much this program aligned with my values and aspirations.


Keren-Or Givol

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution: The University of Arizona
Undergrad Major: Psychology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I come from a research heavy background though I have always been interested in practicing. My experiences in various labs and my lab manager position in my gap year have taught me so much about becoming a producer of research and I am so thrilled to become a consumer of research in this field and to use my knowledge in versatile ways.

Future plans and career goals:
My future plans and career goals upon graduation are to work with adolescent victims of abuse in hopes to foster strong familial and communal connections. I would love to open a private practice with a focus in therapy for adolescent victims and families experiencing or recovering from abuse. I am also extremely interested in research and can see myself combining my two interests.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I aligned with both the USC Rossier mission statement and the statement of the Marriage and Family Therapy program. During my interview day, I had that “this is it” moment. USC felt right for me. The people and the place. Everything I heard on interview day has truly lived up and even exceed my expectations and I couldn’t be luckier to be at this school and in this program. Fight on!

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I truly value how each and every day is a day of self-reflection and growth. The classroom environment is enriching, supportive, and encouraging. Your cohort members are people you will rely on for everything and I value their friendship so much.

I also value the effort of our professors and cohort members to create this environment for us to learn and grow together. During interview day, current students told me how incredible the classroom environment is, how incredible professors are, and how amazing your cohort members will be, but you really do not realize it until you are in it. I really value that space we create together.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies I love spending time with my family and friends. I also am a teacher and tutor on the weekends. During my undergraduate career I played ultimate frisbee and I joined USC’s women’s club ultimate frisbee team here as well. I love being physically active and I love hiking and adventures!

Fun fact about you:

  • I am originally from Israel and speak Hebrew fluently!
  • I play on the ultimate frisbee team at USC and I also played in undergrad at the University of Arizona.

One tip for prospective students:
I wrote, “Cheers to my past, my present, and my future” on my graduation cap from the University of Arizona. Of course, this has a personal meaning to me just as it would have a different meaning for everyone. We all come from difference places and we have had different experiences. This program emphasizes that which is one of the many reasons I love it so much.

Come into the application process embracing who you are: your past, present, and your future. It is all so exciting. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Be your true and honest self and I would encourage you to be as genuine as you can be in your interviews, interactions and your application. Everyone wants to get to know you so as cliche as it sounds—just be you!


Rosemary Hansen

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): Georgetown University
Undergrad Major(s): English and Art History

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I worked in the fashion industry, including at Vogue in New York right after college. I also worked in the art and travel industries. Nothing felt like quite the right fit, and I knew I wanted to find a career that would allow me to use my interpersonal skills while simultaneously giving back to the community. I decided to pursue my MFT in order to help individuals, couples, and families overcome obstacles that keep them from living their lives to the fullest.

Future plans and career goals:
My plans for my career are evolving each day I spend in the program. I plan to become a licensed marriage and family therapist and hope to help women and girls overcome anxiety, depression, and disordered eating. I also hope to work with couples at transitional life stages.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC as I was blown away by the faculty and current students who I met on interview day. I also had two friends who had gone through the program and had wonderful experiences. These friends provided invaluable insights during my application process, and I hope to help prospective students as they helped me.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I love the cohort model, and I feel so glad that we have been able to bond as a group, even though we started classes online. I am extremely grateful for how hard the faculty works to make our learning experience just as enriching as it would be in person. I also value the program’s emphasis on self-reflection – every day is an opportunity for growth.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I love to read books by women authors. Some recent favorites are The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and Writers & Lovers by Lily King. I also love to hike and be outside as much as possible.

Fun facts about you:

  • I used to live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and I love to ski!
  • I am a big believer in meditation and have practiced Transcendental Meditation for five years.

Tip for prospective students:
Do not worry if you do not have a psychology background. Being in class with students who have different education and life experiences enriches the process. Do not be afraid to ask questions and connect with student ambassadors, admissions representatives, and faculty. Do not be afraid to “get real” in your application and interview—they want to see your genuine self!


Maaliyah “Mimi” Harris

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Palmdale, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): UCLA (Go Brojans!)
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology with double minor in African American Studies/Education

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I was raised by a young, single father for most of my childhood and it felt like we were figuring out life together step by step. Although I’ve faced adversity, experienced homelessness, and my own mental health issues, I can confidently say I never felt alone. It was with the support of my friends, families, and even strangers who believed in me.

Future plans and career goals:
My ultimate dream is to own a holistic wellness center that targets the needs of marginalized communities through various services such as counseling, group therapy, yoga, and mindfulness. I also want to start a foundation that creates travel experiences for those populations and their families.

Why did you choose USC?
When I think of USC, I almost immediately thought of community. I felt an instant connection with other students and faculty here, and knew I’d gain a valuable experience by being a part of this network. Additionally, I loved Rossier’s mission statement of providing equity to all, a mission very similar to my own.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
So far, I value the connections I’ve made thus far with other like-minded people ready to take on the world. I’ve enjoyed learning about other people’s backgrounds and how their journey has gotten them here. Everyone is so candid and willing to immerse themselves in this experience which has bonded us even closer.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Currently, I work full-time as an Operations Specialist for a start-up tech company that specializes in storage. I am also the Communications Director for USC’s Sistah Circle that aims to connect Black women in the graduate school space. For fun, I like to meditate, do yoga, and watch anime whenever I get the chance.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love to travel and have been to over ten countries, eight of them in the past year. My goal is to hit 30 countries by the time I reach 30.
  • I was a vegetarian for most of my childhood.
  • I didn’t get my license or first car until I turned 23, so just last year!

Tip for prospective students:
As cliché as it may sounds, “follow your heart” has gotten me far. Really reflect on what it is YOU want and need in this moment and how pursuing it will get you one step closer to your dream. More tangibly though, manage your time, stay productive, and make sure to breathe.


Amy Henderson

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Undergrad Institution(s): UC San Diego
Undergrad Major(s): Social Psychology with a minor in Art History and Criticism

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
As an International student, the process of becoming a therapist and the complexities of mental healthcare in America were really foreign to me. It took a lot of research into the intricacies of licenses and practices before I was able to decide on a direction for my future. I also have experience working in research about mindfulness and well-being which has influenced the way in which I want to support others.

Future plans and career goals:
I am still exploring what direction I want to go in after completing my masters. I am interested in working with couples as well as teens and adults in areas around sex therapy and struggles with relationships, sexuality and intimacy. I am also hoping to work with teens and young adults struggling with anxiety and depression by implementing mindfulness, holistic, and integrative approaches to my therapy. One day I hope to pursue a PhD or PsyD focusing on mindfulness, sex therapy, attraction, and how relationships affect well-being.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I really connected with the structure and direction of the Marriage and Family Therapy program. I was drawn to the practical-based approach, the emphasis on transforming current systems of care, and the school’s mission to work through a context-based approach that was centered in cultural competency.
I knew that Rossier was the place for me on my interview day when I met the faculty member who interviewed me. I was so inspired by all she had done since graduating from the same program and I could see the therapist I one day hoped to become in her.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The emphasis on my growth, both personal and professional, alongside learning the skills to help others have been invaluable to my experience. I also really value the diverse perspectives that each member of the cohort brings to the program. I am constantly learning from my classmates and I know that my cohort has shaped me into a better person and future therapist.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I think making time for self-care is essential; outside of my studies I love spending time with the people in my life, meditating, and I am a big supporter of spontaneous dance breaks. I watch a lot of comedy, stand-up comedy, reality TV, and British TV. I also try to go to the beach for the sunset as often as possible. I love trying new things and recently just started learning how to surf and do yoga! I also volunteer in San Diego (where I currently live) as a Sexual Assault Response Team Advocate.

Fun facts about you:

  • Even though I grew up in Dubai, I am actually British and am half English and half Scottish!
  • I only listen to 80’s music when I exercise.
  • I once gave a presentation in undergrad about potatoes and I won an award for it.
  • I ate my first strawberry this year (which is shocking for a vegetarian).

Tip for prospective students:
Embrace who you are and stay true to yourself! Your experiences, your background and your personality are unique. Take the time to feel excited, to reach out and ask questions and to connect to feeling truly yourself. Finally, breathe. You always have time to breathe.


Matthew Herrera

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Pico Rivera, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): Pasadena City College and Humboldt State University
Undergrad Major(s): History

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a career changer! Previously I was pursuing an academic career in history. However, I found myself becoming more passionate about my students’ well-being and helping them succeed rather than reading primary sources and historiographical debates. As a person of color, it was common that first-gen and non-traditional students opened-up to me about the struggles they faced on and off-campus. As I found myself becoming more vested in these interactions, I was heartened to pursue a career as a therapist so I could work directly with populations in need.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to work with adults, college students, adolescents, veterans, and people from marginalized communities. I also want to work with couples, eating disorders, trauma and PTSD, sex therapy, and victims of abuse. My short-term goals are to work with marginalized groups and college students. Eventually, I want to open a private practice that works with all people in need of mental health counseling.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of how closely I identified with Rossier’s overall mission. I also chose USC because of how collegial and welcoming the faculty, staff, and graduate students were when I visited campus and the MFT program. During my interview day, I was blown away by how genuine and supportive everyone was of each other.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I’ve valued the efforts the faculty have made to give us a valuable education during these uncertain times with remote learning. I’ve also really valued the connections I have made with my peers, faculty, and other members of the Trojan family. I have also participated in some other campus groups, such as the USC Latinx Graduate Student Association (LGSA).

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work full-time so my free time is limited. Mainly I spend my time with family and connecting with loved ones through Zoom or other socially distant means. I have also been getting back into music and re-learning how to play my guitar and bass. On occasion, I’ll even practice learning French and Spanish. Other than that, I am trying to meet as many people as possible and expand my network.

Fun facts about you:

  • I play several instruments including guitar, bass, and trumpet.
  • I have a beagle named Louie that magically senses whenever I am on Zoom call and barks incessantly.
  • I am a huge sports fan and love cooking as a way to relax and give my brain a rest.
  • I am an avid music fan and regularly attend shows or festivals in the area.

Tip for prospective students:
Attend the mixers and information sessions to get a better understanding of the program. Also do not be shy! Reach out to ambassadors, current students, and faculty to gain a better understanding of the graduate program you are interested in. Be sure to get perspectives from several ambassadors for a more well-rounded picture of what the program and Rossier offers.
Start the application process as early as possible. The application is time-consuming and all items, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, must be uploaded by the application due date. Also, make time to have fun and get to know as many of your potential classmates as possible. Chances are that you will start building some strong friendships here. Self-care is important and will help prevent you from being burned out.


Molly Nestor

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Undergrad Institution(s): University of Michigan
Undergrad Major(s): Elementary Education

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I lived in New York City for almost ten years before moving to LA for this program. I worked as an elementary school teacher and was particularly interested in exploring and developing intersectional approaches to special education. I loved working in inclusive school settings but found that my passion was in supporting the emotional lives of the kids and their families.

Future plans and career goals:
As of now, I hope to work with children exhibiting oppositional or avoidant behaviors related to disability or trauma and their families. I also currently work as a consultant and workshop facilitator for inclusive school settings and am motivated to use my MFT degree to inform that work. I imagine my future self working in community mental health, continuing my consulting work, and potentially pursuing a doctoral degree.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I was looking for an intentional community with a focus on challenging white supremecist ideologies and histories in psychology. USC’s cohort model reassured me that I would have the time to learn deeply from my classmates and engage in productive group processing. The USC focus on therapy as social justice was aligned with my reasons for becoming a therapist. I did not see that focus reflected as strongly in other programs I was considering.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
So far I have valued the dual rigor and flexibility of the curriculum in the MFT program. There is a lot to learn but the courses are designed to allow students to follow their individual interests and explore the elements of each topic that spark their curiosity. I have discovered new approaches and populations of interest that I would have never predicted six months ago.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I enjoy running with my dog, reading contemporary sci fi, taking action with community groups, and cooking/eating new delicious things. For work, I spend time meeting with schools across the country that are looking to use Universal Design for Learning to disrupt power structures in their schools and create a sense of belonging for all students/families.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have synesthesia which means some of my senses trigger other sense experiences. For example, I see colors and images when I listen to music, count, or touch certain textures.
  • To destress I like to sing along to Usher’s “Confessions” album while cooking a large bowl of pasta.

Tip for prospective students:
Find ways to connect what you are learning to your future career aspirations to stay grounded in the purpose of the work. It can be easy to slip into to-do list mode and see courses or assignments as something to get through, which makes it easier to become stressed or cynical. For me, continually recognizing how my coursework will inform my future practice has helped me to savor my time in the program and to critically engage with any discomfort that arises rather than just complain.


Angela Paniagua

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Highland, Ca
Undergrad Institution:California State University San Bernardino
Undergrad Major: Psychology, minor in gender and sexuality studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I went to community college for 10 years before I figured out I wanted to do with my academic career. Within the last few years I have been a crisis counselor at the San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services Agency. I helped co-facilitate a support group at my undergrad for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and child abuse.

Future plans and career goals:
My future plans and goals are to become a licensed marriage family therapist working in the Orange County or Los Angeles area. I would also like to continue working with survivors of intimate partner abuse. My career goal is have my own private practice one day and possibly pursue a PsyD.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because my values and goals aligned with the USC Rossier mission statement. Also, USC was my top choice for MFT programs and I knew if I was going to be a therapist I wanted my educational background to come from USC. USC provides students with many resources and opportunities to help us grow personally and professionally. I knew by coming to USC I would feel valued and supported as a student and future therapist.

What do you value the most about your experience at USC Rossier?
One of the experiences that I have valued most is how everyone is willing to help one another. From faulty, staff, current students, and alumni everyone is willing to help you achieve your goals and provide you with support. Also, I appreciate how the USC Rossier mission statement is implemented in all of our classes.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently work at the ticket office at USC. I also try to volunteer around the Los Angeles area or on campus as much as possible.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love Disney and try to go to Disneyland twice a month.
  • I have a Pomeranian Yorkie who dances and sings (barks) whenever he hears 24k Magic by Bruno Mars.
  • I’ve watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl so many times that I can recite ALL the lines.

One tip for prospective students:
Attend the mixers snd information sessions to get a better understanding of the program. When I was applying to the program I wanted to know the perspectives of the current students as well as from alumni. Ask questions throughout the entire application process and beyond. Reach out to faculty, staff, alumni, and current students. We are all here to help you throughout the application process and we want to help you through it all. And lastly, be proud of yourselves! Even taking the first step of looking into programs is a huge step in the right direction. Continue to fight on!


Analia Rey

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): Sarah Lawrence College, Lewis and Clark College
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
After graduating college I spend two years working as an exposure coach at a residential mental health treatment center. I learned all about OCD and related disorders and helped guide clients through the exposure process.

Future plans and career goals:
My future plans and career goals are to work with indigenous populations, incorporating indigenous values and healing modalities into mental health care. I would love to start a private group practice with some of the amazing aspiring therapists I have met at USC, specializing in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which has had promising results in a range of populations and presenting problems.

Why did you choose USC?
I knew USC was the one at my interview day. The professors and current students were so passionate about their work and the field. It was exciting to hear the diverse range of ways they were applying their knowledge. It felt like a tight-knit and supportive community. The mission USC Rossier really resonated with me, as someone passionate about increasing equity in mental health care.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
While there are so many things that make USC Rossier truly special, two things stand out. The school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in every single class. We critically examine the material from multiple perspectives and discuss what it means to provide culturally competent care. We are always engaging in brave self-reflection.
On my interview day one professor talked about how Rossier strives to embody a “beloved community”, and that is exactly what the program has done. Even over zoom, the cohort feels like a family. I have already met some lifelong friends and colleagues. The atmosphere is supportive and open. The professors are always available to connect on an academic or personal level.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies I love to cook and bake for my friends and family, embroider, and spend time at the beach. Hiking is one of my favorite self-care activities. Lately I’ve been getting into DIY projects and herbalism.

Fun facts about you:

  • I spent a month in Tibet studying Buddhism.
  • I am a Hufflepuff.
  • I’ve read every Jane Austen novel more than once.

Tip for prospective students:
Get to know your student ambassador!! We can help give you a real feel for what the program will be like. Read the mission statement of the school and think about how this fits in to your passions and future goals.


Kiana Sadrosadat

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of California, Los Angeles
Undergrad Major(s): Sociology

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I am a proud second-generation Iranian-American. Although born in the US, I have experienced, observed, and understood the hardships felt by minority communities, religiously and culturally. This direct exposure to disparity provided me with a salient lens into the realm of mental health.
During my undergraduate years, I was a board member of a mentorship club for distressed students. In addition, I was a research assistant in two psychology research labs. Ever since I was eight years old, I knew that my passion was to help others, and envisioned myself as a therapist with little to no question since then.

Future plans and career goals:
My future plans and goals upon graduation revolve around pursuing a PsyD program. Following, I plan to open a private practice, where I will work primarily with children and adolescents. Also, I hope to write a book promoting and guiding mental wellness and self-love from a unique therapeutic and holistic perspective.

Why did you choose USC?
First and foremost, I chose USC because of the school’s mission statement towards diversity and inclusion. Secondly, USC is known for their recognized professors, who are inspirational and support your success. Finally, I felt confident that I would feel connected and valued with Rossier’s intimate cohort model.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The professors and staff at Rossier have truly made my experience special. I will never forget that on my first week of classes, my professor and classmates sang a happy birthday song to me. The care, support, and thoughtful energy is ample at USC Rossier.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I love to be involved in the beauty of insignificance. I start each day with a cup of coffee and no technology. I love working out, especially hiking, as you become engulfed by magnificent views and appreciate the world that we live on. Additionally, writing poetry is a great passion of mine. Most of my poems have to do with a type of anthropomorphism of nature, and connecting it to us as humans.

Fun facts about you:

  • I am vegan and love animals!
  • I have moved 23 times in my 23 years!
  • I love hot yoga, 50’s-90’s music, and traveling.

Tip for prospective students:
Through the application process and beyond, be yourself, be confident in your efforts, and be proactively organized. You CAN do this with hard work and dedication! And, through this, know that there are plentiful resources available to support you. Do not be afraid to reach out!


Carrie Smolen

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Undergrad Institution: Wesleyan University
Undergrad Major: Film Studies

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
I moved to Los Angeles with the intention of pursuing a career in film, but quickly realized that “the industry” didn’t feel like a good fit for me. After that, I owned and operated a food truck called The Pudding Truck for nearly five years, which was an incredible experience in so many ways, but ultimately I felt like being a small business owner left me in conflict with the more sensitive and empathetic parts of my personality. I feel confident that career-wise, the “third time’s the charm” for me, and so far my experiences in the MFT program and working as a crisis counselor have affirmed that instinct.

Future plans and career goals:
I am still figuring out the specifics of my career goals, but one thing I love about the prospect of working in mental health is that I’ll have the ability to do a few different things simultaneously. I love the idea of slowly growing a private practice while working with a school or agency to be able to learn and challenge myself in a number of different ways at the same time. At this point, I am drawn to the idea of working with adolescents as well as with the families and support systems of folks living with mental health diagnoses.

Why did you choose USC?
Knowing that I wanted to pursue my MFT in LA, Rossier seemed far and away to be the most reputable and rigorous program I encountered. Beyond that, I felt an instant connection with the members of the faculty that I got to meet, as well as a few members of the Trojan alumni community, which is known for being very supportive of one another. Since the mental health field is so much about making connections, both professionally and in terms of personal growth and support, I knew that a program designed around an intimate cohort model with a large and encouraging network of alums would be the right environment for me to pursue this career path.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
The faculty and the other members of my cohort have made this experience so far absolutely incredible. I have already learned a ton about this work and about myself, and I just can’t wait to continue to go deeper.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently volunteer with The Trevor Project and The Leadership Lab at the LA LGBT Center. I tend to spend the rest of my time working out in HIIT classes, cooking and baking, watching movies, TV, and comedy shows, learning how to garden, and hanging out with my friends, family, husband, and cat (though I am staunchly both a cat AND a dog person and don’t believe in that binary)!

Fun facts about you:

  • I was once in a photoshoot for Glamour Magazine with Bono!
  • I can make balloon animals
  • During undergrad, I studied abroad in Buenos Aires.

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Grad school is a huge commitment, so it’s okay to want to make sure that it feels like the best possible fit for you. I’m also proof that you don’t have to have a background in psychology or be right out of undergrad to feel at home here. I personally believe that having a little life experience in other arenas can only help make you a better therapist!


Ally Zhou

Program: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)
Year of program graduation: 2022
Hometown: Bakersfield, CA
Undergrad Institution(s): University of California, Irvine
Undergrad Major(s): Psychology and Social Behavior

Read more

Unique experiences in your background:
As an avid mental health advocate, I run a social media campaign called #GrowWithMe. This campaign started from speaking out about my own personal struggles with the intention of raising awareness for and breaking the stigma on mental illness. It has since grown into a project to bridge people together through learning from and connecting to each other’s experiences. My life’s advocacy work continues to build on this campaign’s purpose in showing people they are never alone in their struggles.

Future plans and career goals:
After graduation, I plan to work towards becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist and open a private practice. Though I am still exploring my options, I have a strong interest in working with young adults, especially college students. Outside of the therapy room, I plan to continue effecting change by advocating for the needs of marginalized groups through community engagement and pro bono work. Additionally, giving a Ted Talk is a dream of mine and on the top of my bucket list!

Why did you choose USC?
I fell in love with this school and program a year before I even applied. Rossier’s emphasis on social justice and personal responsibility aligned perfectly with what I was looking for in a graduate education. I knew that this program’s commitment to being in community for and with one another would help me develop my voice and teach me how to leverage my privileges. Along with USC’s extensive resources, opportunities, and alumni network, the school’s location was the cherry on top as it would allow me to be immersed in the communities I want to serve.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
My relationships and the sense of community, hands down. There is no doubt that the faculty, staff, cohort, and alumni wholeheartedly care about each other’s well-being and success.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I spend most of my time hanging out with my partner, family, and friends. I also enjoy playing piano, trying and making new foods, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and being in nature.

Fun facts about you:

  • I speak fluent Mandarin
  • During undergrad, I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain where I got my first tattoo
  • I have a humanlike cat named Thor who acts more like Loki

Tip for prospective students:
Trust yourself and trust the process! It is so easy for us to compare ourselves to others, but know that you are exactly where you are meant to be. Your unique experiences, identities, and strengths make you, you – and everything you need to thrive and succeed is already within you.