Teresa Hudock is the Director for CALIS. Please forgive previous version.
Teresa Hudock is the Director for CALIS. Please forgive previous version.
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USC University of Southern California
Experiential and Applied Learning



As record attendance at this year's ExL experience fair attests, students and faculty interest in experiential learning opportunities is increasing exponentially. Students are excited about opportunities to share their academic knowledge and apply it in real world situations that will ultimately help to better prepare them for life after college. 

Multiple studies have shown that experiential and applied learning programs not only enhance students' understanding of their disciplines, but also increases the flexibility in fluidity of their ability to navigate opportunities within their area(s) of interest.
Students clearly see the myriad of benefits of this type of learning as evidenced by the unequivocal demand for more experiences from our office. As proud Trojans, our students have a voracious appetite to learn, and increasingly wish to apply that learning and a variety of experiences that prepare them for the career of their choice.  

I’m happy to say that our faculty join them in recognizing these benefits and opportunities. We’ve had several faculty come to us, excited about the possibility of exploring and learning how experiential programs contribute to the coursework and benefit not  only themselves, but their students as well.

One of our responsibilities as educators is to help students build the bridge between their academic experience and their career life outside the university. Experiential learning is that bridge as we  connect the unique knowledge and wisdom our faculty provides students with experiences though our global and community centered relationships.  A tried and true outcome of change agents who continue to make our Trojan community very proud. 

Next semester, the EXL Lab @ USC with the Office of Religious Life "Transformation" programs continue with "Empathy: The Gifts & Challenges of our Most Unique Quality" following by revisiting the program on gratitude that was enjoyed by both students and staff this fall. The EXL Lab will also host seminars for faculty on the benefits of Experiential Learning and the many resources and opportunities we offer to support your work with our students. We welcome the conversation and the opportunity to create and innovate with you. 


Interview by Gabriella Marquez, ExL Communications Intern

Written by Amber Harris, ExL Innovation and Implementation Manager

Our Spark to Flame series serves to dispel the notion that success is achieved only by crafting and following a well thought out plan, executed by a definitive end date.
Success, like life, is a journey with many destinations along the way. Some of our most lauded faculty did not take a linear path to achieve the accomplishments seen today. Some found success after many years in a different sector, while others discovered that remaining open to embarking on new possibilities actually deepened their passion, thus strengthening their flame. Our hope is for students to not only be inspired, but remain patient as they journey to unearth their own spark.
This issue's conversation is with Dr. Marcos Briano. Dr. Marcos Briano “DrB” (he/him/el pronouns), Director of USC’s Physical Education & Mind Body Health (PEMBH) department is dedicated to students’ wellbeing through physical fitness, mental wellness, and the connection of mind body health. 
Dr. B earned his Ph.D., in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Multicultural Community Clinical Psychology at California School of Professional Psychology (Alliant University), his Masters in Marriage Family Therapy (MFT) and his BA/BS in Psychology/Exercise Science from USC. His research interests include suicide intervention training, teaching, social justice, and advocacy for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. Under his leadership, PEMBH is currently developing certification programs, expansion of mind body health courses, and a peer mentor suicide intervention training program.
Find out what was the spark that led to his impressive career in his interview with ExL Communication Intern,  Gabriella Marquez.

Written by Amber Harris, ExL Innovation and Implementation Manager

Associate Dean Tammara Anderson served as the Director of the Joint Educational Project for 37 years. During her time, she  ushered in a multitude of programs that literally benefited thousands of USC students and students in the surrounding community. To celebrate her years of excellence in service, JEP established the Tammara Seabrook Anderson Spirit of Service Award in her honor.  
This award was created to increase access to service-learning and community engagement opportunities for everyone, regardless of background or financial resources by providing financial support to students for whom voluntary (i.e., unpaid) service may pose an obstacle to participation. The goal is to increase access to JEP’s service-learning programs and create a more equitable and diverse pathway to JEP’s paid positions, which are filled by recruiting from the pool of student volunteers.
When asked about receiving such an honor, Tammy said, "Education and service have always been a big part of my life.  Both of my parents were public school teachers who valued education.  We were a very Catholic family, so service to others was important.  Finding a job that married education and service was a blessing and a joy.  I thank the JEP staff for establishing this new award and I’m humbled that you would think to name it in my honor."

Written by Robert Gould, President, Imaginosis Media Design/Consulting Director, EXL Lab @ USC

"People are willing to take the simulation of empathy for empathy itself." -Sherry Turkle

Film has been called “the ultimate empathy machine.” If you’ve ever seen a movie or read a story, chances are you identified with characters to the point that you physically expressed their emotion (you feel what they feel in that fictitious situation). 

Empathy, our ability to connect emotionally with beings, is one of our most profound capacities. The sensory bridge to shared experience, empathy is the connecting tissue of human social organization. It is at the foundation of healthy, loving relationships, key to resolving conflicts, and enables us to engage meaningfully with stories and aesthetic experience. It is also a primal force, one we share with other mammals. 

We all possess this transformational ability and choose to use it daily to experience emotions through media and with individuals for our personal satisfaction. Why then do we choose not to deploy it when it may hold the key to our collective well-being? Empathy is arguably the secret to our survival as a species; its shadow is perhaps the reason we are careening towards self-destruction. 

In this EXL Lab experiential program, we will explore both the light and shadow of this transformational quality and how we can engage with its productive and fulfilling aspects to evolve our lives and relationships in the world we inhabit. 

We will challenge you to think critically about the nature, history, and purpose of empathy in its scientific, philosophical, and spiritual expressions. We will interrogate its current and potential value in both personal and societal relationships; discuss the role of empathy in storytelling and the arts; and examine the degree to which we integrate the narrative practice of empathy into our lives. 

Through immersive experience in a safe space, empathetic listening, discussion, and creative maker projects, we will watch as the world of empathy comes to life. It is a world beyond the individual that exists only in community and conversation. 

Join us this February to experience one another’s world, and discover the transformational power of empathy within yourself.
Classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6:30pm, January 31st- March 9th. 

 Please sign up here.

Written by Amber Harris, ExL Innovation and Implementation Manager

ExL kicked off the semester with the Second Annual ExL Experience Fair. Geared to introduce ExL programs to Dornsife students in an immersive way, the day was filled with food trucks, giveaways, prizes, and DJ Deezy on the ones and twos.

Our program directors showcased the work they do by facilitating interactive games and activities such as Civil Rights Jeopardy, JEP Yoginis Yoga, and CALIS Trivia.

Take a look at a snapshot from the day.


Joint Educational Project

Written By Susan Harris, Executive Director, Joint Educational Project

This year has been special for the Joint Educational Project in a variety of ways, and it started off with a virtual celebration of “JEP Day”—January 14th, as declared by then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley in 1980—to kick off JEP’s 50th anniversary year. 

The team organized many events to honor this special year. JEP partnered with USC’s Office of Research and Center for Excellence in Teaching to host two workshops for faculty and graduate students in February, focusing on the ethics of community-engaged research and best practice pedagogies. In March, over 75 JEP alumni made their way back to the JEP House to participate in USC’s annual Alumni Day of SCervice in which, for the first time ever, volunteers could help JEP directly by assembling STEM and reading kits for JEP’s STEM Education and ReadersPLUS Programs. In April, JEP’s Community Service Awards were presented both online via a virtual ceremony and at a small winners’ luncheon at the University Club. With the help of our generous JEP family, awardees received more than $50,000 to use for their service-learning and community engagement-related studies and research. Later in the month, JEP’s ReadersPLUS and Little Yoginis programs once again participated in the LA Times Festival of Books where they demonstrated our great work to an audience of over 150,000 attendees and distributed some of the kits that were assembled during the Day of SCervice. 

Over the summer, participants in JEP’s Public Service Internship program continued their meaningful work with many of JEP’s non-profit partners. Amidst the great workshops that JEP’s Young Scientists Program held this past year was a long-awaited, three-day professional development marine biology workshop for high school teachers that included a trip to the Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island. As the summer break came to an end, everyone felt incredibly lucky that we were once again able to host our student leaders at an in-person remote retreat in Palm Springs – a training that had been paused during the previous two years due to the pandemic. To ensure that our new hires would not only be trained appropriately but would also not miss out on the training traditions that went on for decades before, we invited a few special alumni to participate in the desert retreat. 

Even after the semester was back in session, the 50th Anniversary events did not stop. In September, JEP sponsored and participated in the first ever USC and UCLA volunteer-collaboration day: Serve LA. Students from both schools were volunteering all over the city – many of whom chose to help out our STEM Education Programs at our partner 32nd Street School. At that same site on October 6th, JEP co-hosted another first: a book release and assembly event! To celebrate the publication of the “STEAM Powered Career Collection” book series that was created in collaboration with Room to Read, 32nd Street School students and their teachers were invited to hear from the authors and creators of the ten-book series and to a receive free set of books. The series aims to increase diversity in representation in children’s literature focused on STEM subjects and was distributed to every child in our partner schools – totaling 8,600 book sets. Many thanks to the JEP student and professional staff members who worked hard to support six book series assemblies throughout the rest of the month. 

Finally, in November, Homecoming weekend offered a perfect opportunity to invite everyone involved in JEP’s fifty-year-long history back to campus for a weekend packed full of different ways to engage. The weekend started on Thursday night at Town & Gown, when 300+ friends and supporters of JEP reflected on the past, celebrated the present and shared their hopes for the future. The evening honored Tammy Anderson, former Executive Director of JEP and current USC Dornsife Associate Dean of Experiential and Applied Learning, for her dedication to JEP by naming our newest initiative in her name: The Tammara Seabrook Anderson Spirit of Service Award. This award was created to increase access to service-learning and community engagement opportunities for everyone, regardless of background or financial resources. During an open house on Friday, visitors to the JEP House enjoyed a walk down memory lane, reviewing an assortment of awards, articles and photos from years past displayed at JEP. The 50thAnniversary weekend concluded on Saturday when JEP alumni came to reconnect with JEP staff, friends and family at Dornsife’s Alumni Picnic and Homecoming football game. 

As the year comes to an end, December marks the completion of JEP’s “50 Stories for 50 Years” campaign which features stories of fifty individuals who were interviewed about the impact of JEP on their lives. Whether former JEP participants, community members, donors, staff members, celebrities, and/or politicians, everyone who has been touched by JEP has looked back on their time fondly while also looking forward excitedly to the future of JEP. 

In reflecting on JEP’s 50th year, one might nearly forget that JEP also facilitated a 51st year – two  activity-packed semesters of service-learning and community engagement programming for over 1,500 students that sought to learn more about JEP’s communities, about themselves, and about the structures and systems that impact everyone in Los Angeles. Those students might very well be the storytellers of tomorrow, remembering how their time with JEP in 2022 impacted their trajectory. As we look towards that future, the JEP team is already hard at work on preparing for 2023 with new events, new opportunities, and new memories that will be formed and retold for years to come. 

If you want to learn more about JEP’s goals for the new year and beyond, please click here to read our 50thAnniversary Vision Statement.

Overseas Studies

Written By Peter Hilton, Director, Overseas Studies

Participation picking up in wake of pandemic

Participation for 2022-23 is up 76% from 2021-22 but stands at just 50% of 2019-20 participation. Some partner universities have put sharp limits on incoming study abroad students in order to accommodate greater demand from local students who delayed entry or sat out semesters during the pandemic. As reluctance to travel internationally wanes and as there are more freshly returned study abroad students on campus to encourage their peers to study abroad, we hope to return to pre-pandemic participation levels within the next two years.

First students on semester in the Galápagos

This fall saw our first students on the newly-approved Galápagos semester in Ecuador. They spent a month at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in the capital before heading to USFQ’s campus on the island of San Cristóbal in the Galápagos where they studied marine ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation, among other topics. They also spent a week at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon region.

Pre-health students get hands-on experience in different health care systems

There is a misconception among some pre-health students that they cannot fit in a semester abroad. Overseas Studies offers several semester abroad programs that include rich experiential learning components in addition to regular coursework. Pre-health students can and do study abroad and later get admitted to top medical schools.

Pre-Health students in the Health & Society program at King’s College London and the Community Public Health program in Botswana relate their experiences of being immersed in different cultures and health care systems. Two students share their stories in words and photos below:
Beryl Zhou (Biological Sciences ’23), studying a King’s College London, poses in front of The Shard.

King’s College London Health & Society Program

Beryl Zhou, a Biological Sciences major studying abroad at King’s College London, is in the Health & Society program, a special course that takes students beyond the classroom. 

Beryl writes:  The Health and Society program is an unparalleled way of gaining cultural competency in the medical field by having exposure to the United Kingdom's healthcare system. Each week, different guest speakers focus on topics ranging from clinical care in the NHS to medical ethics. My favorite classes were visits to art and medical museums, where we learned about how medicine evolved over time throughout history. Some of the highlights included the National Gallery, the Gordon Museum of Pathology, and the Wellcome Medical Museum. Our small cohort of students also have the opportunity to shadow general practitioners, sexual health services, and other forms of specialized care in order to better understand the similarities and differences between the UK and the US in a clinical setting. It is an extremely engaging and thought-provoking course that encourages interdisciplinary ways of thinking, which is a crucial skill for all professions. Not only have I met some of my closest friends abroad in this course, but I have also found new ways of approaching patient care that I hope to implement in the future.
 Aaron Kirk (Biological Sciences ’25), far left, at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve outside Gaborone, Botswana.
Aaron Kirk (center) and classmates set off to shadow health care professionals at clinic in Gaborone, Botswana.

Community Public Health Program at the University of Botswana

Aaron Kirk, a Biological Sciences major and aspiring physician, is spending the fall of his sophomore year on the Community Public Health program at the University of Botswana.

Aaron writes:  My favorite program class is the community public health practicum. Each week, we shadow in a clinic and now we are working with the Ministry of Health to put on a health expo at the nearby small village of Kgope. In class, we study public health with an emphasis on Botswana, and learn about the pros and cons of the system which we are weekly seeing in the practicum. My favorite University of Botswana class is Bio 421: Entomology, the study of insects. Everyone here thinks I am crazy to take a fourth year bio course as a sophomore, but I find the content very interesting and it is a hands-on class. I also volunteer with another student every Tuesday at Mokolodi Nature Reserve. We are working in their education center designing a museum and working with the school groups. We also work in the bush and with the animals in the enclosures that are injured or part of the education center. These last two weeks we tagged along to keep records of the giraffes and rhinos–we basically received a free safari.

Center for Active Learning in International Studies (CALIS)

Written By Teresa Hudock, Director, Center for Active Learning in International Studies (CALIS)

CALIS Student Highlight

Written by Dr. Shannon Gibson, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Environmental Studies, Political Science and International Relation/Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of International Relations

CALIS educational researchers, TJ Martynowicz and Christina Chkarboul, were participants in the Gibson Climate Justice Lab team's virtual attendance of the recent United Nations climate change negotiations known as COP27. In addition to helping track the talks, their main role was to observe and learn from actual negotiations so they could help build out the climate negotiation simulation for the IR 323 Politics of the Global Environment course. In particular, they assessed and developed materials to allow the expansion of this well-known simulation to include climate justice issues and non-state actors. Way to go TJ and Christina!

Fisher Fellowship Program

Written By Dr. Amanda Bloom, Director, Fisher Fellowship Program 

The Fisher Fellows had an outstanding  semester! Here is a quick recap:
Bryan Velasquez-Flores was accepted for a Maymester in Rome! He was also offered a research assistantship with USC's Near Crisis Project.
Over the summer, Blanca Godoy participated in a Julymester in Barcelona. She was also admitted to the Gateway Scholars Research Program.

Raymiro Gomez-Galliano was accepted into the Progressive Degree Program (Social Entrepreneurship), Qunyh Nguyen interned with the L.A. Federation of Labor, Jocelyn Leon enjoyed a prestigious research internship with Houston Methodist West Hospital, Lula Haji worked for Karen Bass' campaign and Giancarlo Rodriguez interned for the Westminster Free Clinic.
Thanks to the generous support of our benefactor Sam Fisher, we were able to support the successes of our fellows by assisting them with letters of recommendation, application fees, laptops and stipends to help cover the cost associated with participating in Julymesters and Maymesters which helped to create a more enriched experience. 

Lastly, Luis Tun, who is six months from graduating, already has a full-time job offer from the Goldman Sachs office in Dallas. Fisher funded the costs associated with his Summer 2021 and 2022 internship with Goldman Sachs which allowed him to accept the opportunity and clearly make the most of it.

We had an enormously successful first Fall Retreat (Ventura Beach, weekend of 9/30) and managed to secure reservations with Catalina's Wrigley Research Center for the Fellowship's second annual Spring Onboarding Retreat for new Fellows. 

Fisher had its own panel during Research & Fellowships Week titled "Chasing Dreams: How The Fisher Fellowship Puts First Gens 'On The Map' In Exchange For Service." This was November 3rd. On November 4th, we had a fun FF info mixer in the First-Gen+ Center. 

We enjoyed a successful application process for our next cohort and look forward to another great term!

Prison Education Project

Written by Kate Levin, Co-Director, PEP

USC-PEP returned to in-person programming after a three-year pandemic hiatus. We offered face-to-face debate and film studies classes at two correctional facilities, as well as online classes in environmental studies, creative writing, and astronomy. 
We inaugurated our Student Leadership Circle, a group of seven dynamic, creative, and socially conscious undergraduate students who are implementing USC-PEP's existing programming and designing new initiatives. This semester, the Student Leadership Circle organized an on-campus roundtable with Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon to discuss criminal justice reform, as well as a panel discussion featuring systems-impacted students at USC to brainstorm ways to support members of our community affected by incarceration.

The USC-PEP Readers' Circle -- a thriving and unique literary arts project that pairs incarcerated writers with volunteer reader-editors at USC -- has grown exponentially. The Readers' Circle has processed over 600 manuscripts written by authors in custody this year, and enlisted 300+ volunteer reader-editors from the USC community. The Readers' Circle recently expanded to add Spanish-language editorial services, and is now open for submissions to visual artists as well.  

This spring, for the first time, USC-PEP will offer USC academic credit to incarcerated students through WRIT 320, an Inside-Out writing workshop taught by Professor Nik De Dominic and Professor Kate Levin. The class will co-enroll USC undergraduates and students who are in custody at the California Institution for Women in Chino. In addition to receiving course credit, all students will have their work published in a printed anthology.


Written by Robert Gould, President, Imaginosis Media Design/Consulting Director, EXL Lab @ USC

This past fall, the EXL Lab @ USC in partnership with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life hosted the first program in the "TRANSFORMATION" series called Discover Your Gift: The Transformative Power of Gratitude in Action.  
Through select readings, conversations with special guests, journaling, and shared experience, this five week journey explored gratitude in motion and action. Participants were given tools to activate the immense power of gratitude in both their personal and professional lives.
The course culminated with participants creating a project that spoke to the power of gratitude in their life as a force for inspiration, transformation, and community.

Here's what students had to say:
"I realized ... that gratitude is a lot more than just these things…it’s being grateful for yourself; it’s about relationship and being grateful for others and how they’ve been able to help you; it’s about really understanding yourself, and from that, you’ll be able to be more grateful, because you have a stronger grasp on what gratitude really means." - Irene 

"My favorite moment was when Johneric Concordia came in to share his story for the family table. Sharing his story, and of course the delicious food from The Park’s Finest, but really his powerful story of growing up in Filipinotown. It was so interesting to hear about the different neighborhoods and communities and the exchange between them." - Arnav

“Being grateful for yourself is something I don’t do very often, but especially after today’s project, someone mentioned how important it is to take time for yourself, and be grateful for just being you." - Sayanti 

“This program was the first time I thought of gratitude as a gift, and not something that’s static, but something you receive and then you pass on. So it was cool to think of it as something in motion, like this ever-flowing river that passes through us. ... my final project was a visual celebration of gratitude, and I found that really meaningful, and a great time to reflect on what I’m grateful for. I found that mode of expression very powerful and I’m excited to continue to use it in the future.” - Suhas 

Written by Amber Harris, ExL Innovation and Implementation Manager

The Office of Experiential and Applied Learning has some of the most dynamic young minds on campus working in capacities that fall outside the purviews of their majors. Our three graduates made tremendous contributions during their time working in our office and we have no doubt they will be successful in whatever chosen career path they embark on. 

Jiqi Li and Xioaxuan (Nicole) Lu were the brilliant minds behind the office's interactive and immersive website.  Despite Jiaqi being a Communications major and Nicole not having UX or UI as her strong suit, their passion coupled with their aptitude resulted in dare we say, one of the best websites on campus!  Check out their impressive work here.

Charlie Rivera, a political science major, was one of our Communications interns and was charged with curating and managing content on our social media. Once again, her ability to video edit and make quality content for our marketing purposes has been an invaluable addition to our office.

All of our graduates will truly be missed. We wish them all the best and know they will unequivocally Continue to ExL!  Meet our graduates below:

Jiaqi Li

This is Jiaqi Li. I am a graduate student at USC Annenberg School’s Digital Social Media program. Meanwhile, I am the designer and developer of the new ExL website.

About a year ago, I was admitted as a part-time website developer for ExL by Ms. Amber Harris by chance. Having a mixed background in design, front-end development, marketing, and content planning, I have never thought of working as a “professional” web developer and being responsible for such an important and challenging project. I doubted my ability at first, but as it turned out, the experience of working for this website has become one of the best memories I earned during my stay at USC.

The process of making this website happen was filled with struggles. My thin tech background pushed me to self-learn the necessary skills for the intended effects, to figure out debugging all on my own, and to rethink better ways of having the tasks done after going through all the difficulties. Of course, Ms. Harris and my co-worker Nicole’s support and trust played an important role in helping me achieve my greatest potential. After overcoming all the hardships, this website eventually became my proudest project that I would love to show off when applying for jobs, as well as a meaningful legacy that I present to USC and the Dornsife School even after I graduate.

At the moment, I am facing the uncertain choice of my first career, but I don’t see it as a big deal even under this unpleasant freezing hiring circumstance. With the takeaways I gained from this journey, I feel more confident in my countless future possibilities. That entry-level developer who only processed passion at the beginning was able to make such an achievement in three months, then what choice of life couldn’t she break in?

“I live in a wonderful waiting, waiting for any kind of future.”

Xiaoxuan (Nicole) Lu

I am Xiaoxuan Lu, I am a graduate student from Viterbi School of Engineering. These past years, I have explored a lot in computer related fields, including software engineering, data science and computer vision. Among these, the data related technology attracts me the most. Rather than saying I want to be a data scientist or software engineer with such specific positions, I’d like to say, I want to be a good problem solver; the person who is creative and able to solve problems in different situations, for different people. I would find the chance and resources to quickly understand an industry or a technology and apply my knowledge to solve the problem. That’s amazing for me and I enjoy it. Designing webpages in Dornsife is such work. I learned web designing much more in detail, like, how to make the pages with expressive dynamic effect and how to make pages fit well with different screen sizes. In these processes, I was solving things and made things better. It also encouraged me. I really appreciate the experience with my leader Amber Harris and my partner Jiaqi. Amber trusted us a lot and always compliments our work. She is an amazing artist. She has good artist sense and gives us many suggestions for the webpages. She is also a great friend to us. She listens and supports whenever we ask her for help. And my partner Jiaqi, she also taught me and helped me much in this process. We worked together well and I really enjoyed the time we were solving problems together.  

I want to say, never be afraid to try something. Although you may encounter some difficulties, the more important thing is that you can learn much and be inspired by it, and it is amazing to see that you have many people around you who are very nice and will become your friends. 

Charlie Rivera

I owe much of my success at USC to the Dornsife Experiential Learning programs. I’m a political science major with a minor in social work and juvenile justice, and I came to USC with the intention of getting an education and gaining experience in the field of civil rights and advocacy. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve participated in the Trial Advocacy program, Agents of Change civil rights clinic, and worked in the Experiential Learning office. The experience I’ve gained and lessons I’ve learned in each has been instrumental to my growth as a young, working woman. 

In the Trial Advocacy program, I refined my public speaking skills and learned how to work in high pressure situations. My first semester I worked diligently to learn the traits of an effective attorney in the courtroom, and by my second semester I was chosen to be a squad captain. As a captain, myself and my co-captain led our squad into Regionals and was the only squad on the USC team to qualify for the Opening Round Championship Series. It was an incredible start to my time in the Trial Advocacy program, and this success followed me into the next year. During my second year, I was an integral part of an undefeated squad, and qualified the USC team to compete in the National Championships. I value my time in the Trial Advocacy program, and am grateful for the opportunities it presented me and people I was able to connect with. 

It was actually through the Trial Advocacy program that I learned about Agents of Change (AOC). The head coach, Olu Orange, was also the program director of AOC, and he encouraged his students to apply. The application process entailed answering short essay questions about our passion and interest in civil rights in addition to a two minute video about something meaningful to us. I shared my passion for civil rights stemmed largely from my upbringing in my hometown of Oceanside, and made my video about my younger sister. I was one of twelve students chosen to be in the first ever cohort of the program. 

AOC has been the most formative experience for me. It is through this program that I’ve had the opportunity to work paid internships at amazing organizations, and build my resume while attending school. My first internship was at the LA Civil Rights department. During my time there, I wrote research reports, staffed the Executive Director Capri Maddox, and worked closely with the communications director to create social media graphics and outreach materials that promoted the mission of the department. In my second internship, I worked at Homies Unidos and got experience working in the community doing food distributions and helping create the newsletter for the incarcerated individuals and impacted families the organization served. My final internship was a year long at Inner City Law Center (ICLC), a legal aid organization that helps the unhoused population in LA and those experiencing housing insecurity.  Because my internship was a year long, I was fortunate enough to work on various cases gaining exposure to many different legal issues. I helped attorneys with debt dismissals, demand letters calling for landlords to fix tenant habitability issues, and also investigations into illegal units. Each of these internships has shaped me into the effective organizer and advocate I am today, and even after my time in AOC, the program continues to benefit me.

I am graduating this semester and am fortunate enough to have two job opportunities, both of them are places I’ve worked during my time in AOC. In addition to working, I will also be studying for the LSAT as I intend to apply for law school during the next application cycle. My career goal is to become an attorney in the field of civil rights, and start an organization in Oceanside that provides free, low cost services to underserved communities.

Dornsife’s Experiential Learning programming has been an integral part of my success at USC. While working at the Experiential Learning office, I’ve had the honor of uplifting the programs that benefited me as well as the others ExL offers. I hope through this work that other USC students have learned about the opportunities presented by the ExL office, and are able to make the most of them just as I have. 

For more information on how to ExL in Experience, visit the ExL website.

Watch our ExL trailer.

Support ExL experiences by donating here.

Donate to ExL


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