November 4, 2016
Student Highlight: Out-of-State Student, Matt Solowan
For this month’s installation of Student Highlights we have Matt Solowan. So there’s a couple things I want to preface about Matt, and as his admission counselor, I feel the need to brag a little bit. Matt is from Long Island, NY with a double major and double minor (no that is not a mistake!). He is majoring in Economics and Italian, with minors in Dance and Web Technologies & Applications. On campus, Matt is involved in University Student Government (USG) on the Diversity Affairs Board and is Co-Director of Scholars Leading Scholars. Recently, Matt was accepted to study abroad in Milan taking economics classes at Università Bocconi. Oh, and did I mention that he’s graduating next year…meaning he is somehow accomplishing all this in 3 years?! It’s safe to say that Matt is amazing, so I hope you all enjoy hearing a little more about his perspective as an out-of-state student.
As a native New Yorker, born and raised on Long Island, I grew up with a “California dreaming” mentality. I was enticed by the idea of winters without snow and a city lined with palm trees, cradled between the ocean and the mountains (Los Angeles fit the bill, of course). According to my mom, my family went on a vacation to California right before she got pregnant with me. Now I always tell my mom that it was destiny that I ended up moving out here because they didn’t wait for me to be around to go on that trip.
To quote one of my all-time favorites, Miley Cyrus, when I arrived at USC for my freshman year I quite literally hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan (and four more suitcases filled with clothes, which in retrospect was way too much, but I digress). I was excited and nervous and everything in between. I’ll definitely be the first to tell you that going to school far away from home certainly has its challenges. The high school-to-college transition can be difficult enough, but when you add the fact that you’re nearly 3,000 miles away from home in a new city where you don’t know anyone, it can be pretty daunting. Even now after being at USC for a while (and loving almost every minute of it), I still find myself homesick at times and miss my family, my friends, and my bagels (it’s a Long Island thing).
However, I also wake up every single morning overcome with gratitude for the immense amount of academic, professional and social opportunities I have at USC. A few weeks ago, my best friend from home flew out to visit me. In the five days she was here we went to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, tailgated and attended a USC football game, had brunch and went to the beach in Santa Monica, and explored Grand Central Market and The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA. After an extended weekend filled with adventure, I sat back and couldn’t help but think about what better place I could’ve chosen to spend my college years and how much the city of Los Angeles has to offer. Suffice to say that my friend never wanted to leave and she will definitely be visiting again soon.
The experiences that I have had on campus have been just as, if not more, rewarding. I have met profoundly intelligent professors who have shaped the way I view myself and my role in society. Through my classes in the Thematic Option Honors Program, I have been challenged in my beliefs and urged to think deeper and question the world around me. I have also made friends from all over the country and the globe who have opened my mind to the beauty and diversity of the human experience. I never would have dreamed that I would have a place to stay if one day I visit Chicago or London or Hong Kong, but the diverse and global student body at USC has made that a reality. I have been challenged and sometimes I have failed and other times I have succeeded. Not everything has gone exactly as I planned when I first set foot on campus, but I have learned how to get back up again when it doesn’t, and fight on, as we Trojans say. My experience at USC has changed (and continues to change) my life for the better and I would not give it up for the world.