Highlighting USC’s Native American Student Assembly (NASA) – Fall 2022

What a year since our previous highlight on USC’s Native American Student Assembly (NASA)! Here at USC, we work hard to make sure our students can find communities and have safe spaces for them to be themselves. Although the cultural club for our Native American students may be relatively new, we are growing and progressing exponentially!  

NASA provides an intimate space for Native American students to authentically be themselves and to be supported in their endeavors. They are supported by Native American USC staff and faculty like me – Dylan Goodwill (Diné/Hunkpapa Lakota/Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota). Although it has been a bumpy ride, NASA has been thriving and striving. 

For example, NASA has fully moved into our culturally affirming lounge in the Student Union for our Native American and Pasifika students.  Today, you can find the Native American and Pasifika Student Lounge (NAPL) alongside other cultural centers like La CASA, the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs (CBSCA), and others in the Student Union. The lounge has become our home away from home and a place where our students host events, talk with support staff members, study, or just relax!  

Our NASA student leaders have persevered and continue to work hard to create events and spaces for their voices to be heard at USC. NASA meets once a week and hosts amazing events.  Currently, they are actively coordinating the with the university to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November. This will be the first year that USC will celebrate Native American Heritage Month university-wide!   

In addition to this upcoming celebration, USC has created many wonderful changes in 2022 for our Native American students. For example, this past April, USC dedicated one of its most landmark buildings to Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the first Native American USC graduate. Our NASA students were heavily involved in the building dedication, and it was a beautiful sight to see allies from across the university come to support them. It was a monumental moment to see so many Native Trojans in their traditional regalia during the dedication ceremony, and to hear Crow honor songs echo across campus as the banner fell to reveal the new building name, the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for Intenational and Public Affairs

Along with the building dedication, USC launched the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Native Leadership Scholarship in January. By April 2022, our first Native Leadership Scholarship cohort was admitted to USC and invited to attend the building dedication ceremony. From this, we are truly excited to continue the scholarship which is available to first-year applicants who identify as American Indian/Alaskan Native/Native Hawaiian and have applied through the Common Application by our Early Action deadline of November 1.  

Overall, NASA hopes to gain more Native students so they can continue to grow and thrive. We are very excited for what the future may hold! So, do you know any Native American students?  Let them know about NASA at USC.   

To receive further information on upcoming events, be sure to follow the Native American Student Assembly on all social media platforms (@uscnasa). 

Written by: 

Dylan Goodwill, Senior Assistant Director & NASA Support Staff member 

Latinx Heritage Month 2022 – “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Community”

Bienvenidos! Latinx Heritage Month begins with a kick-off event on September 15, 2022! Hosted by University President Carol L. Folt, and including remarks from faculty, staff, and students, we will explore this month’s theme: “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Community.” Everyone is welcome to watch the livestream at Tommy’s Place from 12-2pm, to enjoy light snacks and refreshments in-person, and celebrate the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month. 

The celebration of Latinx Heritage Month uniquely begins in the middle of the month on September 15, the date that coincides with the Independence Day anniversaries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. What was once called Hispanic Heritage Month is now more commonly referred to as Latinx Heritage Month to be inclusive and representative of non-binary, gender non-conforming, and gender expansive peoples. This distinction of a more inclusive name still embodies the purpose of the month, a time to honor and celebrate the Latinx community. 

At USC, this celebration typically includes a variety of events throughout the month where students can hear from speakers who visit campus and engage in meaningful conversation with the community. 

Last year, the Marshall School of Business outlined a timeline of important dates that align with Latinx Heritage Month, which you can check out here

These highlights include notable figures such as: 

  • Ellen Ochoa is an engineer and a former astronaut who was the first Hispanic woman to go into space. She was also the first Hispanic and second woman to serve as the Director of NASA Johnson Space Center. 
  • Cesar Chavez is a civil rights activist and American labor leader who cofounded the National Farm Workers Association and organized the most successful boycott in US history leading to better working conditions, access to healthcare and pensions, and an agreement allowing field workers the right to unionize. Cesar Chavez day is a US federal commemorative holiday celebrated on March 31 every year. 
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest congresswoman in US history. She advocates for a progressive platform that includes support for tuition-free public college, a Green New Deal, abolishing ICE, Medicare for all, and a federal jobs guarantee. 
  • Pablo Alvarado is the director of the National Day Laborer Organizing network and he has dedicated his life to reducing the suffering of migrants in the US. He was named one of TIME’s 25 most influential people in America. 

USC Libraries also created a Latinx Heritage Month Reading List. The list includes Latino USA: A Cartoon History by Ilan Stavans, Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out by Luisa Capetillo, Piñata Theory by Alan Chazaro, With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, and many more books written by Latinx authors and scholars. 

For students interested in pursuing research at USC, the Library database has a Latin American Studies Research Guide which is a helpful tool to navigate the abundance of available resources. 

USC has numerous resources to support the needs and success of Latinx students. Since its founding in 1972, Latinx Chicanx for Advocacy and Student Affairs (La CASA) empowers students through cultural identity, leadership, and social consciousness development, and establishes community for Latinx Trojans. La CASA hosts the Power Pan Dulce speaker series where faculty, staff, and alumni can connect with others and support students with their professional aspirations over some traditional, delicious sweet bread! La CASA is a space where Latinx students can experience cultural community and connectedness, it can be your space to seek help and support, or simply a great place to study.  

For over 45 years, Latinx students have experienced community by living on the El Sol y La Luna: Latinx Floor, or known to as “The Floor” by the students who live there. The goal of the Latinx Floor is to create a positive and supportive environment that helps Latinx students navigate their experience at USC while empowering them to be leaders. “The Floor” has been home to generations of Latinx Trojans, a community where students feel a sense of belonging and where friends become family.   

We have a dynamic and prideful Latinx community who value sharing their culture with others and thrive at USC. The Latinx Student Assembly (LSA), is a cultural assembly that fosters pride in Latinx heritage and culture. LSA supports student-run Member Organizations with the resources to host events that bring together students of Latinx heritage, to make positive impact in the community, and to educate the USC student body.   

The USC Latino Alumni Association (LAA), is one of the nation’s leading Latinx alumni associations that provides scholarship assistance and is the representative voice for all Latinx alumni. LAA hosts their annual Scholarship Gala where a Latinx student is celebrated as the recipient of the Dr. John R. Hubbard Recognition Award for their academic achievements, leadership and community service.   

Of the dozens of student organizations on campus that relate to the Latinx community, one that promotes a sense of pride and passion for Latinx representation in cinema is The Latinx Film & Media Association (LatiFAM). Representation includes the actors onscreen, as well as those who work behind the scenes in productions, like the directors and writers. LatiFAM’s goal is to highlight Latinx creatives in the entertainment industry. They state their intent on their website as fulfilling a “need for Latinx professionals in the film and media industries.” This organization hosts screenings for both student films and blockbuster movies like In the Heights. LatiFAM has already hosted a Carne Asada Welcome for new students with delicious (and free) pupusas, tacos, agua frescas, and paletas. Join this club to experience an empowering connection with fellow filmmakers and film enthusiasts. These students can connect with one another to collaborate on film projects, discuss the movies they love, and highlight the importance of Latinx stories being told through film. Follow their Instagram to stay in the loop about future events and film screenings: @latifamdeusc 

Another organization worth checking out is Amplify Writers’ Collective, a collective for screenwriters of color. Follow them on Instagram: @amplify.sca

Latinx Heritage Month is not only for the Latinx community – it’s truthfully a celebration that everyone can participate in! At USC, all students are encouraged to participate in these events to uplift and celebrate the Latinx community. 

Written by Lina Goggins-Rendón, Assistant Director

Transfer Talk Tuesday: Expectations vs Reality 

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note that each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

Hi everyone! My name is Savanna Fakhoury, and I am a current junior studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. I was born and raised in Southern California, and I come from a very large and fun Jordanian and Syrian family. I enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, reading, listening to podcasts, baking, going to concerts, and watching reality TV. I hope to one day become a physician and work in underserved populations, specifically within displaced refugee groups. My journey to USC was quite an interesting one, and I am excited to share a bit about my experience and what I have learned so far.  

I went to an all-girls Catholic high school and was a part of the choir group at school. Our choir group was invited to perform at USC’s Caruso Catholic Center – my first-time setting foot on what I had not known would become my home. I remember telling myself not to get too attached to the school because I did not think USC would be an option for me. That was my first expectation that was far from reality. Little did I know, I was offered an opportunity to apply to transfer to USC for my sophomore year. Although I knew for quite some time USC was for me, I was worried about not assimilating into the school well. So many questions were at the forefront of my mind. I did not know what to expect, but as I have been here for a few years now, I thought I would share some things I learned along the way.  

Expectation #1: “It’ll be hard to meet people and form connections, especially due to the pandemic” 
Reality: This is SO not true. USC has more than 1,000 student organizations and so many opportunities to find people and organizations you mesh well with. I found my home in many different places: Keck Student Ambassadors, the American Medical Women’s Association, through my research on prostate cancer at the Keck School of Medicine, and with my fellow ambassadors at the Office of Undergraduate Admission. College is what you make of it. Put yourself out there, and wonderful experiences and people will come your way.  

Expectation #2: “USC is a big school, will I get swallowed in the crowd?”
Reality: No! Professors and the university really foster a welcoming environment and give many opportunities for us students to make connections. Class sizes are smaller, and our personal educational experience is of great importance to USC.  

Expectation #3: “It’s tough finding people who have similar interests and goals.” 
Reality: Not at all! USC aims to have a very diverse and inclusive environment for all students. The 1,000+ student organizations help students find a group with similar interests and goals.  

Expectation #4: “If I struggle in school, I am on my own.” 
Reality: This is so not true! There are so many resources USC offers to give us students support. Professors host weekly office hours, many classes offer free supplemental instruction, and we have the Kortschak Learning Center to help guide and support us through our academic journey.  

Expectation #5: “It will be easy to take a full course load, be involved in many organizations, and have lots of free time to spend with friends and family.” 
Reality: In all honesty, I thought I would be able to do it all. I have since concluded that academics at USC are very rigorous, and organizations require time and commitment. I have learned that the key to balance is time management. With a calendar, planner, and an optimistic viewpoint, college life will be very fulfilling and balanced. It’s all about being open minded!  

In conclusion, we all have expectations about what an experience will be like and how things will turn out to be – in every situation, even beyond college. Expectations are comforting, as they help us mentally plan for the unknown ahead, but they are also limiting.  

There is no standardized formula to have the perfect college experience because the college experience is different for everyone. Everything that occurs is unique to our own stories and paths, in order to help form us into the humans we are meant to become.  

Attending USC has been the best decision I have ever made. I have had many expectations, some aligning and some not aligning with reality. My advice to you: just go with it and enjoy all that is to come! 

Written by  Savanna Fakhoury, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying  Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.