May 11, 2017
Student Highlight: Graduating Student, Dru Chavez
At USC, graduation celebrations are in full swing now that students have completed their finals. Tomorrow, the Class of 2017 will become #USCGrads. In honor of these celebrations, we wanted to highlight a graduating senior as he reflects on his time at USC. Meet Dru Chavez, a native from San Pedro, CA. We’ll let him tell his own USC story, but you may have already met him on campus as one of our amazing tour guides. Best of luck to Dru as he heads to Boulder, CO to begin his job at Google. Fight On!
By the time I decided to sit down and start writing this post about graduation, I thought I’d be anxious or sad. To be honest, I’m not. I’m excited to graduate. I’m fired up.
The final countdown…
My final semester as a USC undergraduate consisted of standard classes such as Abnormal Psychology, American Popular Culture, and Advanced Strategic Public Relations. However, one that stood out as one of the most memorable was an honors course in the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism: Improvisational Leadership. The class was instructed by Fred Cook, ex-CEO and current Chairman of Golin, a renowned public relations agency. Every other week we were challenged with trying something new. The assignment was open-ended and could be interpreted many ways. Professor Cook wanted to push us out of our comfort zones and in turn, I gained an appreciation for new experiences. I watched my classmates muster up the courage to ask their internship supervisors for full-time positions, take a Kombucha making class, and even skydive. Week by week, our class became a supportive community of Trojans.
I feel as though my semester-long leadership class was a microcosm of my four years at USC. Since I was young, USC was always my dream school. Born and raised in San Pedro, California, a blue-collar town located in the Port of Los Angeles. My actual house is only about 22 miles from University Park Campus, but so quickly, did this place become a second home. I was committed to dive into all that USC has to offer from day one. Freshman year, I was hired to be a tour guide and joined the club baseball team. By sophomore year, I was involved with USC Speech & Empowerment, a club where we would go to a local high school to teach the fundamentals of speech and debate. Junior year, I studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro during what I would call a “wild time.” Rio was unsuccessfully preparing for the Olympics, Brazilians were successfully impeaching a president during an economic recession, and there I was living with 70-year-old Martha in her two-bedroom apartment in Copacabana. After my semester abroad, I interned with Google and was asked back with a full-time offer. I’ve yet to miss a home football game and I’ve already bought my season tickets for next year. I’ve been livin’ the dream.
What kept me motivated throughout the semesters were the people. First and foremost, my family. They are my everything and have supported all of my endeavors. I didn’t know many students coming to USC, but I made it a priority to surround myself with good people. I think I’ve done just that. In my apartment this year, you’ll find Paxton, from Tacoma, Washington, who will be a business consultant in New York after graduation; Aram, from Glendale, who will be entering the #1 Physical Therapy School in the nation; and Noah, from Lemoore, who spent two years interning in the LA Lakers’ media relations department and got to work every Lakers home game (including Kobe’s last game!) And then there’s Ben, from Minnesota. He’s a natural born communicator and has covered USC Athletics for the Daily Trojan and Neon Tommy. These four guys, along with countless other friends, inspire me everyday and are what I’m going to miss most about this place.
As I prepare to take my last finals and enjoy my final days as a college student, I constantly remind myself to enjoy every moment–an attitude I wish I would have started earlier on. These past four years were a wild ride and each special moment plays a role in the larger experience. Though it would be great to stay a student forever, I must chase new experiences in order to grow. This lesson is exactly what my Improvisational Leadership class reinforced. I’m so thankful and humbled to have gone to such an amazing school. Now that I’m on this side of the hill, I believe it is not the school that makes the students what they are, but rather the students that make this school what it is. And USC is in a league of it’s own!
If I were to leave prospective and current students with any advice, it would be to drink the Kool-Aid. If you’re going to invest in anything emotionally, financially, and physically… learn to love every second of it. And let me tell you, the Kool-Aid here is sweet!