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.
 

Kerin Antonio Alfaro

Program: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology online
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Lynwood, CA
Undergrad Institution: California State University, Dominguez Hills
Undergrad Major: Healthcare Management

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a PROUD son of Salvadoran/Palestinian immigrants. I am the youngest of three sisters and two brothers and I am the first to achieve an education beyond and associate’s degree. I learned a lot from my not-so-easy upbringing and knew I wanted to be more than just another statistic living in the hood.

Future plans and career goals:
After working as professional in biomedical and basic science research administration, I have found my purpose in training others interested in the field. Training and curriculum development in research administration has not received much attention in the past, but the industry is catching on. My short-term goal is to make a mark in research administration by creating a novel way of approaching professional development in my field. My long-term goals include sharing my approach with other institutions as an instructional designer and subject matter expert. If you asked me where I see myself in five years, I would say as an Executive Director in research administration, leading the way in my field through effective instructional design, while finishing up an EdD.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC for many reasons but one of them was for their career opportunities in contracts and grants management, also known as research administration. I knew I would not only be able to continue my journey in my field here but could also pursue my dreams of going to graduate school.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
What I value the most at USC is the benefit of being able to contribute to my field in a very unique way. I have also been a triathlete for many years and very fortunate to be part of USC’s triathlon team. Being a student, athlete, and staff member at USC allows me the chance to balance my time wisely and focus on the tasks I need to achieve. It can be done! I am extremely grateful I am able to do all these things all under one university. The skies are endless here at USC and at USC Rossier!

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I am a full-time employee, part of USC’s triathlon team, proud founding president to the Lambda Delta Tau Society – Learning, Design and Technology at Rossier student government organization, and, most importantly, a son, brother, uncle, friend, and paw-ther.

Fun facts about you:
I was a contestant on ABC’s Wipeout, of which my nephews still cannot get over. I like to personify inanimate objects, which is just part of giving life to everything I do. I know how to make Pupusas.

Tip for prospective students:
Persevere and utilize your time with purpose! Time is never given back to you, so make the most of the time you have and chase any goals with conviction. In the process, things will inevitably not go as you initially planned, but forge your way and persevere anyway–there are lessons to learn when off-roading. Life has dealt me many unfavorable cards, but these two pieces of advice always remind me there is always sun above the clouds and light at the end of the tunnel.


Cairo Briceno

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Undergrad Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Undergrad Major: Latin American and Iberian Studies

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation Nicaraguan-American student.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to work to support and retain college students from marginalized communities within higher education. Ideally, I would work in student life and/or judicial affairs at a four-year institution.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC for its commitment to educational equity, both within and outside of the classroom.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
The sense of community and support within each cohort is what I have enjoyed the most.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work as a graduate hall coordinator for residential education and housing services at Occidental College.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love to try new food/places
  • I am a fan of musical theater
  • I love to dance, especially to Latin music

Tip for prospective students:
As a first-generation college student, applying to graduate school felt like such a daunting experience. However, I encourage all prospective students to utilize and connect with all the resources associated with their school/program. We are all committed to student success.


Sydney Estrada

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching
Concentration:Multiple Subjects (Elementary)
Year of program graduation: 2019
Hometown: San Marino, CA
Undergrad Institution: Santa Clara University
Undergrad Major: Psychology, double minor in Communication and Urban Education

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Unique experiences in your background:
My father and other members of my family are graduates of USC.
Future plans and career goals: One of my career goals is to become a third grade special education teacher.

Why did you choose USC?
As a lifelong resident of Southern California, becoming a member of the Trojan Family has always been a dream of mine. The spirit of community is truly fostered here at USC, and it is something that I will carry with me beyond graduation.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
One of the things I have valued most about my experience at USC Rossier is meeting new people and listening to the unique stories of my peers and professors.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I attend the various MAT Club sponsored events, and spend time with my family and friends.

Fun facts about you:

  • I enjoy exercising at OrangeTheory Fitness.
  • I love listening to music.
  • I have traveled out of the country.

Tip for prospective students:
Never be afraid to reach out to the admissions staff and current students! We are here to support you and always readily available to answer any questions or concerns you may have.


Selina Galvan

Program: Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Sylmar, CA
Undergrad Institution: Arizona State University
Undergrad Major: Special Education and Elementary Education

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Unique experiences in your background:
First-generation college student, first-generation Mexican-American

Future plans and career goals:
My future plans and career goals upon graduation are to work in a special education school setting as a mental health professional. My ultimate career dream is to open up a private practice with a focus in therapy for individuals with special needs and/or disabilities and their families.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because I aligned with both the USC Rossier mission statement and the statement of the Marriage of Family Therapy Program. In the USC Rossier mission, I most aligned with “value and respect cultural context” pursuing work in the mental health field, this statement really resonated with my own values. In the Marriage and Family Therapy mission statement, I completely agree that we need to fit the system to the people and not people to the system. Through my experience at USC thus far, I have really seen both these phrases in both mission statements play a role in my education.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I spend most of my time with my family members. I have a large family and spending quality time with them is very important to me. I also am currently working as a Registered Behavior Technician where I provide ABA therapy to children of various ages diagnosed with Autism. I also am a sports enthusiast and rep all my Los Angeles teams and try to attend as many Dodgers and Lakers games as I can!

Fun facts about you:

  • I was at the the 2010 NBA championship when the Lakers won.
  • My dad was in the running for #1 Laker fan in 2013.
  • During my undergrad, I studied abroad in Costa Rica to complete service projects and teach English to a disadvantaged community.

Mario Hernandez

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Wilmington, CA
Undergrad Institution: Los Angeles Harbor College and University of California, Riverside
Undergrad Major: Associates Degree in Social Behavioral Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology

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Unique experiences in your background:
I identify as a first-generation Latino male college student from the parents of Mexican immigrants. I am a product of the community college system and the Puente Project.

Future plans and career goals:
My future plan academically is to pursue an EdD program in Higher Education Leadership. My future career goal is to work as a community college counselor and my personal ambition is to work as counselor for the Puente Project.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose to pursue my graduate studies at USC because of the Trojan network. This program is unique in the sense that all of our faculty and professors are well connected.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently work as an academic coach for the Adelante First-Year Experience program at East Los Angeles College.

Fun fact about you:

  • In high school I ran two Los Angeles Marathons with Students Run L.A.

One tip for prospective students:
Be persistent and start early in your application process. Remember why you’re applying for a master’s program and reflect on your passion. This will help guide you in answering the prompts for the program.


Liana Hsu

Program: Master of Education in Enrollment Management and Policy online
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Tustin, California & Taipei, Taiwan
Undergrad Institution: University of Southern California
Undergrad Major: Business Administration (focus in marketing and market research)

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Unique experiences in your background:
I studied abroad in Germany, went to high school in Taipei, Taiwan (American school), worked in Bali, Indonesia and Taiwan in addition to the U.S., and I speak three languages.

Future plans and career goals:
Dean of Admissions (long-term)

Why did you choose USC and what have you valued the most about your experience here?
I chose USC because of the wealth of opportunities, focus on policy and practice, strong Trojan network, sense of community, top-notch faculty and the caliber of students. For me, I knew USC was the right fit because it produces leaders in each respective field and challenges me to think critically and creatively about how to bring greater impact to the global community. USC expands your horizons in addition to your mind. I was drawn to the EMP program because a program like this is rare – with some of the most respected enrollment management leaders as faculty, cutting-edge research and a comprehensive curriculum specifically designed to prepare each individual to be a change agent in the field of enrollment.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
My most valued experience is the relationships I have built with not only my professors and my EMP cohort, but USC Rossier at large. I feel like my experience has been tailored to my needs and desires, and I am grateful for the genuine interest the faculty and my colleagues have in mutual development and empowerment.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of work and studies, I am a runner and hiker and am currently training to run a half-marathon.

Fun facts about you:

  • I am an avid hiker and choose travel destinations based on enticing hiking trails. I would love to go to Iceland and Greece next.
  • My guilty pleasure food will always be something with peanut butter like dark chocolate covered peanut butter!
  • I love solo traveling. I know this is a topic of controversy but my first solo trip was in college to Hawaii, and I loved it!

Tip for prospective students:
Be genuine and feel empowered to ask questions. I am a firm believer in the idea that there is no such thing as a dumb question. I conducted my preliminary research on different programs and but ultimately was unsure of which of USC Rossier’s programs would be the best fit for me and my career goals. Choosing a graduate program can be a daunting task, but I felt empowered by asking for help. I started by understanding my own goals and interests and reached out to the assistant director of a couple programs I was interested in after doing my own research. It was the best choice I made. I felt supported and heard. I connected with my adviser over the phone and in person, attended information sessions and capitalized on each opportunity to learn more and connect. All these resources are readily available to support you and help you find a program that is the best fit for you.


Lily Kim

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Downey, CA
Undergrad Institution: University of California, San Diego (Marshall College)
Undergrad Major: Human Development, double minors in Business and Public Service

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Unique experiences in your background:
I’m a first-generation, Korean-American college and graduate student.

Future plans and career goals:
I’d like to earn a Doctorate in Education, work as a program manager and then move into executive leadership in student support services or athletic administration.

Why did you choose USC and what have you valued the most about your experience here?
I chose USC because of the PASA curriculum. As a student affairs professional over the past four years, I realized that although I had an abundant amount of hands-on experience working directly with first-year students through orientation/transition programs and residential life, I still greatly lacked some knowledge and understanding in higher education and student affairs. So, I chose USC for their wide array of courses so that allow me to build a solid foundation in my understanding of higher education. Additionally, it was absolutely wonderful that within just a week of submitting my intent to enroll at USC, I was able to utilize my new Trojan network and receive offers for five different graduate assistantships!

What have you valued most about your experience here?
Although I am only in my first year, I have already formed a valuable community with my PASA cohort. As a strong believer of the buddy system, I have been able to draw and share support with each of my cohort members throughout our long nights of papers and hectic assistantship schedules. I love that I am able to walk into the classroom or an event and be warmly greeted by my fellow PASA classmates. It makes me feel welcomed and valued regardless of where I am or what I am suppose to be doing. Additionally, I greatly value the Trojan network. Many of my supervisors at both of my assistantships are PASA alumni and they are extremely understanding and accommodating of my academic, professional and personal schedules!

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Currently, I am juggling my time as a full-time graduate student with two assistantships, one part-time and one full-time. I am a graduate assistant at USC Price School of Public Policy, where I serve as the campus visit and student ambassador program coordinator to connect prospective students with current USC Price staff, faculty and students. I also serve as an Academic Mentor at UCLA Athletics: Academic and Student Services, where I mentor student-athletes towards academic success as they juggle their academics and heavy sport-related obligations. Aside from my assistantships, I am now proud to be part of PASA Network and USC Rossier Student Ambassador Board!

Fun facts about you:

  • For my self-care, I enjoy going to the gym or eating over-priced but delicious food at Disneyland/California Adventure!
  • Even though I am a SoCal native, I am a die-hard Warriors fan! I admire Steph Curry, but my heart is with Klay Thompson.
  • I used to be a night-owl, but ever since I started graduate school, I am now a morning person! I’d rather wake-up at 6 a.m. to get work done rather than stay up all night cramming.

Tip for prospective students:
Believe in your voice! You think and act the way you do because it is what makes you YOU! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to talk a certain way or be a certain person because it is what is expected of you. You are who you are. Keep this in mind when you are writing your statement of purpose. As the oldest child of two immigrant parents from a low-income family, I had a lot of expectations and burdens placed on my shoulders. For years, I weaponized my weaknesses as a first-generation scholar, making up excuses for why I should be given priority because of my struggles. However, once I met my mentors and found my passion in higher education student affairs, I learned how to embrace my identity and appropriately utilize it towards being an advocate for my fellow peers and students. Therefore, I was able to let my voice and visions shine through my statement of purpose, as I focused less on using “big professional words”, and more on what “I” wanted to do and what “I” wanted to gain from the university.


Rachel Kim

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching
Year of program graduation: 2019
Hometown: Bethesda, MD
Undergrad Institution: University of California, Irvine
Undergrad Major: Education; Psychology and Social Behavior

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Unique experiences in your background:
I taught in an elementary school in Mexico for one summer.

Future plans and career goals:
I aspire to become an educator who helps her students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be better equipped for their future. I want to connect to my students relationally and invest in their lives beyond the classroom. My goals are not limited to a location. I hope to teach all across the globe and work with different types of children.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because this program best aligned with my personal aspirations as an educator. I loved how I did not have to modify my beliefs and values to fit the personal statement and complete other aspects of the application.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I value the personal attention my professors have given me the most. Coming from a public university, I appreciate how my professors make an effort to get to know me and our smaller class sizes. They try their best to help me in any way possible and are always approachable.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work as a peer tutor for the USC Athletics Department.

Fun facts about you:

  • I love traveling, the ocean, and ice cream.

Tip for prospective students:
Start the application process early and make sure you do your research! It’s better to be over prepared because you’ll be more confident knowing what you’re getting yourself into.


Kyah M. Kitchen

Program: Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Aurora, IL
Undergrad Institution: The Ohio State University
Undergrad Major: Psychology

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Unique experiences in your background:
I took a break after my undergraduate career to work in human resources. I earned a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from USC.

Future plans and career goals:
I would like to pursue either a PhD or EdD! Someday, I would love to work in admissions as an executive for a large university.

Why did you choose USC and what have you valued the most about your experience here?
I chose USC because I wanted to be with other professionals who care about educational equity.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
Getting to know my cohort and Los Angeles has been great! I’ve most valued the willingness of our professors to go above and beyond for their students.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I’m a chapter advisor for Gamma Phi Beta at USC! I also love traveling, playing video games and snuggling with my cat.

Fun facts about you:

  • I moved to California when I was 22
  • I’ve studied abroad in London and Italy.

Tip for prospective students:
Focus on finding the best fit for you and where you feel most at home!


Caitlin Kwan

Program: Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Undergrad Institution: Western Washington University
Undergrad Major: Linguistics, Spanish and Education

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a career changer. I taught elementary-aged students, mostly in Seattle public schools. My career change was precipitated by a move to Southern California. Like many careers changers, I considered many different options, but nothing felt ‘just right’ until I came to interview day at USC.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to focus on clinical work, despite the fact that I enjoy research. I am currently considering continuing my education with a PsyD program. I hope to continue working with children and families in my clinical work.

Why did you chose USC and what have you valued the most about your experience here?
Like any prospective graduate student, I did my homework on various programs. I knew that being at USC Rossier would give me great opportunities: access to the renowned Trojan network, opportunities to work in Tier 1 psychology research labs (which I now do) and a home in a school of education (ranked #10) with a mission focused on social justice. But what sold me on USC, was the things I learned interacting with the people at USC Rossier. Each member of my cohort enlightens and enriches my experience at USC. This was by design, as we were all interviewed by faculty and thoughtfully vetted. On top of my own cohort’s daily support, the senior, second-year cohort have organized various events and a “big-sibling” connection for each of us. Besides a really supportive and galvanizing cohort, I value the intimate contact in-class and one-on-one advising that the faculty offer. With so many different directions to choose from, the thoughtful advising I have received from faculty has been invaluable.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
What are you involved in outside your studies? I am a research assistant in USC Family Lab. The rest of my time is spent with my pets, husband, friends and maintaining my personal yoga and meditation practice. On a great day, I get my dog to the beach, camping or on a hike!

Fun facts about you:

  • I love children’s books and have quite a collection!
  • I’m a mom to a one-year-old labrador retriever and two kittens–my home is a zoo, yet I’m quite content!
  • I once rode a bicycle from Seattle to San Francisco.

Tip for prospective students:
Get out and meet the people involved in your prospective program! These experiences will inform you where you want to be for the next couple years in ways that internet research never can!

Diverse background of cohort and faculty is one of the program’s greatest strengths. If you’re asking, “will they want me?” you’re asking the wrong question. Ask, “why should I want to be here?”


Marisa LoBuglio

Program: Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution: UCLA
Undergrad Major: Psychology

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Unique experiences in your background:
I have had many jobs in the mental health field, including work at group homes, a rehabilitation center for clients with Schizophrenia, a Dialectical Behavior Therapy clinic, an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) clinic, and a Developmental Individual-difference Relationship-based (DIR) floortime clinic.

Future plans and career goals:
I plan to become a licensed marriage and family therapist. I am currently interested in working with and learning more about the geriatric population because it is the population with which I have the least experience. In the future, I intend to work for the Department of Mental Health in a community setting, hopefully with a population of varied ages and backgrounds.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of its emphatic commitment to social justice. In addition, I appreciated its professionalism, academic rigor, and warm community. In every class at USC, professors connect the specific course content to social justice issues. This has widened my perspective, enabling me to grow both professionally and personally. Furthermore, my peers bring discussions to life as they bravely provide their own unique insight.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I work in a special education class implementing DIR therapy. When I am not working or at school, I love to read, play with my dogs and be with people who make me laugh.

Fun facts about you:

  • I like to try to skateboard.
  • I have three dogs.
  • I am an Italian citizen whose favorite food is bread.

One tip for prospective students:
Keep an open mind and believe in yourself!


Aaron L. Lopez

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching—Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Undergrad Institution: UCLA
Undergrad Major: English and Gender Studies

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation college student and I have been living in L.A. for the past eight years. I am a blend of different backgrounds (Tex-mex-islander with an accent), Don’t ask me how it happened because I don’t know. I am also broke, but I am here.

Future plans and career goals:
My short-term plan is to finish my MAT at USC and go straight into my PhD. My long-term career plan is to become a college professor and teach English Literature and TESOL/ESL, hopefully in California. I also want to travel around the world and have the opportunity to teach English abroad, eat all the food I can, and meet a lot of good people, friends, etc.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I have a job, go to the gym, go on outings with friends and I am currently starting my research project.

Fun facts about you:

  • I LOVE food! I do not eat anything spicy though at all.
  • I really enjoy dancing and working out (it helps with the stress!).
  • I am such a weird person just in general (sorry; can’t help it). I actually have never worn a USC shirt in my life or thrown the USC victory sign.

Tip for prospective students:
Exhaust all the resources available! Do not assume the answers–go look for them and connect with everything the program has to offer such as webinars, socials, mixers, information meetings, etc. Remember, this an investment in your future. If you do not ask for help, no one will know you need help.


Jasmine Lozano

Program: Master of Arts in Teaching
Credential Track: Single Subject Math (Secondary)
Year of program graduation: 2019
Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Undergrad Institution: CSU San Bernardino
Undergrad Major: Liberal Studies

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Unique experiences in your background:
First-generation college student

Future plans and career goals:
My future goal is to work as a teacher in a high-needs area and to challenge the educational “norms” that have been put in place for generations. I want to be a part of making positive and challenging educational experiences accessible to all students.

Why did you choose USC?
First, USC has been my dream school as long as I can remember. Secondly, there is great comradery between the students. Thirdly, USC Rossier has an emphasis on working with students in urban educational settings.

What have you valued most about your experience at USC Rossier?
I value the insight my professors have provided in this program and the challenges they pose. There are days when I walk out of class feeling like my brain is going to explode, but it’s not from bad or overwhelming things. It’s from being pushed to think about my pedagogy and who I want to be as teacher. In the end I feel that this program pushes me to constantly think about myself and gives me practical insight to become the best teacher I can be.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I am actively involved in my church and the community around it. I am involved in tutoring and helping in the schools around me in any way I can. I also love fitness. I am involved in Crossfit, Jiu Jitsu and enjoy participating in Spartan races.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have been to both Thailand and Cambodia on missions trips and hope to make it back to Thailand one day (on vacation this time) because it was so beautiful.
  • I am a huge fan of latin dancing/music.
  • I enjoy being outdoors and finding scenic hikes.

Tip for prospective students:
Make sure you stay balanced, even if that means buying a planner and scheduling your week out to ensure that you are scheduling time for work, school and self-care.


Celina Navarro

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: South Central, Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad Institution: UC Merced
Undergrad Major: Psychology and Sociology

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation Latina college student born in El Salvador and raised in Los Angeles, CA.

Future plans and career goals:
My career goal is to become a community college counselor where I can support students from different backgrounds. Ideally I’d like to work with marginalized communities, undocumented, first-generation and or low-income students. In the future, I aspire to pursue a doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC for a couple of reasons. I grew up very close to USC campus and it became my dream school.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I currently am part of the Increasing Access via Mentoring (I AM) program with the Pullias Center of Higher Education where i provide mentorship to high school senior students. I have two graduate assistantships. The first is as a career guidance counselor assistant (CGCA) at Los Angeles City College in their office of Student Life and my second Graduate Assistantship is at Mount Saint Mary’s University as a residential education coordinator at their Doheny campus.

Fun facts about you:

  • I enjoy long walks at beach
  • I don’t like chocolate or coffee
  • I love to listen and dance to Latin Music

One tip for prospective students:
When I was applying to graduate school, I was very scared to ask for help. I want you to know that although you may feel as if you should have it all figured it out, it’s okay to ask others for guidance and perspectives. You are not alone in this process!


Victoria Parrilla

Program: Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Miami, FL
Undergrad Institution: Tulane University
Undergrad Major: Psychology

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Unique experiences in your background:
While in New Orleans, L.A. studying at Tulane University I had many experiences that helped shape me into the individual that I am and motivate me to further pursue psychology and helping others. I was an intern for a residential home for women who are survivors of sex-trafficking. It was a truly humbling experience. Additionally, I started a chapter of a non-profit organization, Project HEAL (Help to Eat, Accept, Live) to raise awareness and education surrounding eating disorders. I also received a grant funded by the National Science Foundation to conduct research on how body image can impact the perception of offensive communication. I am beyond grateful to have had all these experiences as they have lead me to where I am today.

Future plans and career goals:
I hope to move back to New Orleans after graduating and work with individuals struggling with eating disorders and substance abuse. While I was in New Orleans, I realized how much the mental health care system is lacking and many individuals and families are not receiving help as a result of it. I want to give back to the community that gave so much to me during my undergraduate years and help the underserved. I am also interested in working with college-aged individuals and helping them navigate through the challenges of young-adulthood.

Why did you choose USC?
After attending interview day, I knew USC was where I had to be. USC’s program was unlike any other program for which I had applied or interviewed. The professors are so passionate about the work they do and helping shape their students into the best future practitioners. Their passion seeps through their teaching. Even while conversing with them, I knew I would learn more than I could ever hope. In addition, when I was at interview day, I felt such an incredible energy in the room from all the prospective students and current students. I knew that these were individuals I wanted to be in the classroom with the learn from.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
I have valued the honest conversations that are held respectfully in the classroom, the cohort model and the family systems perspective.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Outside of my studies, I also work on campus as an assistant learning specialist at the Student-Athlete Academic Services working individually with at risk students. In addition, I am a Tulane Alumni interviewer, conducting interviews for prospective students here in California.

Fun facts about you:

  • I was on my college dance team and danced at every home football and baseball game.
  • I am a very active individual and am now training for my first half-marathon.
  • I have a boyfriend that is getting his master’s in Colorado so I’m back and forth between Colorado once a month and California. We have a dog that we rescued in New Orleans named Nyx (named after a Mardi Gras parade) and she lives here with me in California.

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions! This will be the best way for you to get a feel for the program, the people in it, and your future classmates. I would encourage you to be genuine in your interviews, interactions, and essays. Everyone wants to get to know you, including all parts of you!


Nataly Perez

Program: World Masters in Language Teaching -Spanish Track
Year of program graduation: 2019
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Undergrad Institution: San Francisco State University
Undergrad Major: B.S. International Business; B.A. French

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Unique experiences in your background:
I have lived/traveled to over 30 countries.

Future plans and career goals:
I want to make drastic changes in education that will have a positive impact in our future generations.

Why did you choose USC?
Rossier’s academic ranking and the Trojan family.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
Faculty and Staff have been very supportive throughout my time at USC and even thereafter.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I teach and practice yoga, run, hike, surf and snowboard.

Fun facts about you:

  • I’m left handed and have a niche for languages.

Tip for prospective students:
Enjoy every moment of every step in the journey, you will arrive!


Alicia Roman

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling
Year of program graduation: 2021
Hometown: Glendora, CA
Undergrad Institution: Clark University
Undergrad Major: Studio Art

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a student living with a learning difference. I also have a graduate degree in business administration.

Future plans and career goals:
I hope to work as a counselor at a four-year or two-year institution.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of the opportunities they provide students to gain real-world experience.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
I value the diversity in my program. I have professors and peers from all backgrounds and walks of life.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I coach a special needs swim team and enjoy competing in triathlons.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have visited over 40 counties.
  • I lived and taught in Asia for 3 years.

Tip for prospective students:
Connect with current students and faculty before you make a decision to make sure you will be in a supportive and diverse environment and will have the opportunity to learn in and out of the classroom.


Natalie Ryan

Program: Master of Education in Educational Counseling (part-time)
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Undergrad Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Undergrad Major: Rhetoric and Communication Studies, concentration in Marketing/Media

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a biracial, former D1 track and field athlete, and I am a product of Catholic school, public school, and Quaker boarding school. I come from a single-parent household in Pennsylvania, and I’ve lived in Southern California for just over four years. I am currently an 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. In the future, I am committed to gaining entrance into a PhD program for clinical and/or counseling psychology. Above all else, my identity is best aligned with being a tenacious daughter, sister, aunt, friend, advocate, leader, helper, and…Strong Black Woman.

Future plans and career goals:
Become a clinical psychologist for student-athletes and other vulnerable populations.

Why did you choose USC and what have you valued the most about your experience here?
I chose USC because I had so many wonderful first-hand experiences with a variety of faculty, staff, and students before and during the application process.

What have you valued most about your experience here?
USC has always been wholeheartedly committed to helping me follow my own personal trajectory and achieve any long-term and short-term goals.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Beyond the classroom, I primarily love to spend time outside enjoying nature, playing sports, or exercising with my dog. I also love music, so finding ways to enjoy my favorite artists in a public space is always on my agenda. Additionally, I volunteer in the community, proctor standardized tests, and work for a catering company. I am also the co-owner of Creatives Revolutionizing the Everyday World (CREW), a lifestyle brand. Any extra time and money I get is put towards visiting my family and friends on the East coast, though!

Fun facts about you:

  • I used to be a competitive tap and hip-hop dance dancer
  • I have an eight-month old Australian shepherd
  • I and my two brothers were born in New York

Tip for prospective students:
Don’t forget to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS! Consider everyone a colleague, and every interaction a potential professional one. Creating lasting bonds with your professors and classmates will make all the difference in your experience and possible future career moves. Don’t perceive your interactions as a means to an end, but rather an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know prior to the conversation. The ability to navigate the university freely is a privilege, so take advantage of all of its resources while you can!


Jennifer Le Tarm, “Tarm”

Program: Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: I consider all of Orange County my hometown, but I was born and raised in Anaheim.
Undergrad Institution: UC Irvine
Undergrad Major: Education Sciences and Public Health Policy

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Unique experiences in your background:
I am a first-generation, Asian-American, college student. In undergrad, my initial career plan was to become a Pharmacist. I realized that pharmacy was not meant for me because it did not align with my strengths and values. As I got involved with philanthropic organizations, mentorship and personal/moral development, I realized that I wanted to to make my impact and serve others within the field of education and psychology. I knew this pathway would allow me to live my life with meaning, purpose and authenticity.

Future plans and career goals:
I’m interested in working with the student population, specifically high school students and/or students within higher education. Other goals of mine are to increase Asian-American representation in the field of mental health and to work with Asian-American communities to overcome the barriers of negative stereotyping stigmatization towards mental health. I plan to continue to serve communities through alternative educational outlets such as mentorship and conducting educational programming/workshops. In the far future, I hope to be able to give back to organizations that have made an impact on my life journey through a personal scholarship foundation.

Why did you choose USC?
The moment that USC won my heart was on the MFT Interview Day. I remember sitting in the room with all the other applicants and there was this energy that made it feel like “This is where I’m meant to be.” Everyone in the room had such a diverse background with unique experiences, but ultimately it showed me that everyone had a heart and passion to make a difference in mental health. I thought, if the people during my interview day are essentially going to be my cohort, then these are the motivated, compassionate and humanistic individuals I want to learn and grow with.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
Each and everyday is truly a learning experience. What makes each class such an enriching learning environment is the fact that we have numerous opportunities for experiential activities. Of course, it is important to read the material to be able to have the foundation of the concepts, but what makes the material come alive and “stick” in my mind is when we live and recreate the concept/experience in the classroom.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
Alongside my graduate studies and student ambassador program, I am a mentor for the “I AM” Mentorship Program, which assists first-generation high school students with applying for college. I am also currently working as a program assistant at another university. A current side project I am working on is an educational programming series to present to a philanthropy organization I was apart as an undergrad. I typically go back and forth between L.A. and Orange County because my loved ones are a significant part of my life. I like to take my studies outside of campus so I can explore coffee and tea shops in the local area.

Fun facts about you:

  • I am left handed
  • All the schools that I have attended during my academic career have been 5-10 minutes walking distance
  • I am a huge fan of anything that is matcha

Tip for prospective students:
Always believe that you are enough. When I was applying for USC, I had my own doubts and insecurities thinking that I was not enough and that my credentials would never measure up to other well-qualified applicants. However, with the support of my loved ones, peers, and mentors they reminded me to never discredit, but to honor, my experiences and that who I am as a person is valuable.


Ashley Vallin

Program: Master of Education in Enrollment Management and Policy
Year of program graduation: 2020
Hometown: Riverside, CA
Undergrad Institution: University of La Verne
Undergrad Major: Liberal Studies: Elementary Education

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Unique experiences in your background:
I work full time and am the mom of a very lively first grader. I have worked in a few different fields: food services, senior health care and education. By far, education and enrollment management is my passion.I am also a first generation college student and the daughter of an immigrant. I remember when I first filled out my FASFA for community college after high school, my mom handed me their taxes and said “Here, I do not know what to do, but I know you can figure it out.” It was a struggle, but I did.

Future plans and career goals:
My future goals are to move to the next step of my career while affecting positive change for students and families through enrollment management.

Why did you choose USC?
I chose USC because of the tradition of excellence, preparing students for future careers and alumni networking opportunities. I knew I wanted to get an advanced degree, but no program before this one interested me enough or could be adaptable for a working adult.

What have you valued the most about your experience here?
I am able to use what I am learning in the classroom right away at my current position. Our professors are leaders in the field and passionate about enrollment management, but best of all I feel that they care about my success. Each professor has always being willing to answer any questions and help along the way. I cannot wait to say that I am a graduate of one of the top schools in the country.

What are you involved in outside your studies?
I love to craft, my new favorite thing is to make unique gift with my Cricut. I love to travel with my family to discover new places.

Fun facts about you:

  • I have a Shorkie (Shitzu/Yorkie mix) named Chewie
  • I am a huge Disney/ Disneyland fan- Princess Ariel is my favorite!
  • I love studying history and going to historical places. My favorite place I have been to so far is Boston; so much history to see in person! Plus Mike’s Pastries is there (you have to have a cannoli from there)!

Tip for prospective students:
I thought there would be no way I could be admitted to a school like USC. I decided to take a chance and put in my application. SPOILER ALERT: I was admitted! USC looked at my application as a whole, not just past academic history, and saw something in me. Believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything! Education is something that no one can take from you. You can wait to start and wish in a year you had started sooner or be half way to graduation a year from now.