Meet the USC Admission Counselors

Timothy Brunold
Dean of Admission

B.A. Magna Cum Laude, International Relations/Political Science/German University of Southern California

I am a native Californian who grew up in Torrance. Although I had every intention of going to college outside California, I ended up choosing USC and loved every minute of my student experience. I stayed here after graduation and have spent most of my professional career serving in various roles across the university.

Why USC?
USC offers students an academic and social environment unparalleled in American higher education. It is large enough to have something for just about everyone, but is also a place where each individual is respected and receives personal attention. USC’s unmatched diversity, along with its values-driven philosophy and academic excellence, results in educational offerings that are truly relevant to the 21st century.

Admission Advice:
The college search and selection process are all about finding the right fit. Don’t become too narrowly focused on one institution. Broaden your horizons and keep your options open; there are more than 2,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., and there is certainly more than one that will be the perfect fit for you.

Movie: Star Wars
Food: Sausage pizza
Quote: “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.” – Edward R. Murrow
Role Model: I have many. In the world of admission, it is Joseph Patrick Allen.
Musical Performer: The Clash (the only band that matters)
Book: Any non-fiction book about World War II

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Kirk Brennan
Director of Admission

B.A. Cinema-Television
University of Southern California

The Buckley School, Sierra Canyon HS, Oaks Christian HS

My roots are in south-central Pennsylvania, but my parents moved to Southern California shortly after I was born. I grew up mostly around Long Beach (a Millikan alum -- go Rams!), and attended USC. I studied filmmaking with a dream to change the world by telling stories that must be told, by bringing forward voices we all need to hear. A job I thought would be temporary became my dream career, for we in college admission work to change the world every day. What a wonderful, fortunate coincidence.

Why USC?
It felt right when I visited campus and experienced the spirit, felt the supportive atmosphere, and took in the beautiful campus. I still find it odd that my high school geography instructor encouraged me to go to Berkeley instead. For me that made no sense.

Admission Advice:
I believe the most successful applicants care not about advice of the admission counselors, but instead strive to expand their minds as best they can, while also seeking enriching life experiences. So I offer this advice anyway: Do your very best in the toughest classes you can handle.

Movie: I move between Apocalypse Now and African Queen. And here’s a weird coincidence: Both are anti-war epics, both were filmed under extremely difficult conditions, and both are set on a twisting, jungle river.
Food: Anything prepared by my wife, or by David Myers.
Quote: "I know what you’re thinkin’: 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track myself. But being this is a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head ... clean off ... you’ve got to ask yourself one question, 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"
Role Model: My old man.
Musical Performer: I like anything with genuine, sincere emotional expression: mostly rock, but also opera, hip-hop, punk, New-Wave, shouting, laughing, crying. The best is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Book: Love Gatsby, Mockingbird. Greg Rucka’s Kodiak series is fun. David Sedaris just kills me.

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Sara Aguirre
Assistant Director

B.A. Sociology
California State University, San Marcos

Washington State (excluding Vancouver and Peninsula)

I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, followed by a move up north to attend high school. I attended college in Northern San Diego county. After finishing my degree, I began my career in Undergraduate Admission working as an Enrollment Advisor and Admission Officer/Recruiter. It felt only natural to move back to Los Angeles and become a part of the Trojan Family. With roots in both Los Angeles and San Diego, I enjoy going to the beach, attending country concerts, and spending time with my Miniature Australian Shepard, Maddie.

Why USC?
USC highlights a diverse and inclusiveness community every individual should strive to be a part of. While walking through campus, you suddenly feel an inviting and encouraging spirit that is contagious. USC encourages one to challenge the status quo and step outside of their norm. Regardless of your demographic, one will instantly feel a connection and home within the Trojan family.

Admission Advice:
Never be afraid to challenge yourself on your path to educational attainment. You will instantly know when you step onto a campus whether or not this is your new home. Apply and visit as many college campuses as you can. Take advantage of every campus’s resources and push yourself to achieve your dream.

Movie: Titanic
Food: Pasta
Quote: "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain" – Vivian Greene.
Musical Performer: Beyoncé
Role Model: My mom, raising me as a single mom required the greatest amount of courage, faith, and integrity, I’ve ever known.

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Alexander Alvendia
International Admission Officer

B.A. Environmental Studies
George Washington University

South East Asia, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong
DOD Schools

I was born and raised in the frozen Chicago suburbs and made my way to Washington, D.C. for my undergraduate studies. Following graduation, I worked for a tech startup in D.C. before making my way west and relocating in L.A. In addition to working with our international applicants, I'm currently earning a Master's Degree in our Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism here at USC.

Why USC?
The combination of rigorous academic programs and top-tier faculty coupled with USC’s location in Los Angeles offers a truly one-of-kind experience.

Admission Advice:
College is all about learning, not just in the classroom but most importantly about yourself. Look for schools that will challenge and help you grow in all aspects of your life.

Movie: Any Hayao Miyazaki film
Food: Thai Food
Quote: “You create your own luck”

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Hope Amaral
Assistant Director

B.A. Psychology
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

California – West San Fernando Valley
Massachusetts – Boston, Cambridge, and Cape Cod

I was born and raised in the awesome, cold (and humid), state with the best sports teams (Go Patriots!): Massachusetts. I got the opportunity to move to Southern California just two weeks after I finished my Bachelor’s Degree. Excited for the new adventures, the journey of driving across the country, the weather and the views, I knew working in admission would seal the deal on California becoming my new home. Here I am and I’m loving it.

Why USC?
Sometimes at a large university you get the excitement and the endless clubs to get involved with, but you don’t get the one-on-one attention. At USC you get the best of both worlds!

Admission Advice:
Be you. It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to be unsure. Don’t make up what you’re passionate about. It’s also okay if you choose one area to pursue and find out later on, you want to do something totally different. Focus on why we should consider you and why you want to study at USC.

Movie: Anything Tyler Perry
Food: Anything Potato
Quote: "... Redemption can be reality. And He can change your life."
Dream Job Talk Show Host/Small Business Owner

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Brittany Baker-Brousseau
Assistant Director

B.A. English
Williams College

California – Placentia, Orange, Yorba Linda
West Virginia

As a headstrong teenager looking at colleges, I wanted to go somewhere as different as possible from my large high school in Long Beach, CA; a small liberal arts college in rural Massachusetts certainly fit the bill! After graduation, I spent four more years on the east coast working in New York as the administrative assistant in a college counseling office. I am excited to have made the move "across the desk" to college admissions and to be back in SoCal!

Why USC?
The opportunities for interdisciplinary study at USC are abundant and reflect a culture of inquiry and innovation. The university's dedication to creative problem solving truly sets it apart.

Admission Advice:
Become familiar with what the university can offer you in terms of academic and extracurricular experiences, but then think one step further. What do you offer the university? Imagine being here--how will you spend your time? What do you want to explore or improve? What will be your contributions to the community? Don't underestimate yourself! Articulating your potential impact will give us a better sense of who you are and whether USC is a good fit for you.

Movie: Some Like it Hot
Food: Crustaceans and carbs
Quote: "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen
Fictional Character: Sherlock Holmes
Dream Job: Choreographer
Books: Emma, A People's History of the United States, Angels in America

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Kyle Beasley
Assistant Director

B.A. Urban and Environmental Policy
Occidental College

California - Long Beach
Florida - South Florida
Texas - Austin

I was born and raised in Southern California and am a proud alumnus of Occidental College. As an undergraduate I had the opportunity to study abroad in Brazil, intern with an array of community-based organizations, and work extensively with the Occidental College Office of Admission. I am happy to be working in higher education and very excited to be part of the team here at USC!

Why USC?
USC provides a rich and engaging experience for its students. With Los Angeles as the setting, the possibilities and opportunities are limitless.

Admission Advice:
Do your research and make sure that you find the school that is the best fit for you. Choosing where to spend the next four years is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Remember, in addition to studying, you’re ultimately going to be calling this place your home, so you want to make sure that you are choosing an institution where you will feel comfortable.

Food: French Fries and Pizza
Movie: Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and Big Daddy (I’m a big Adam Sandler fan.)
Musical Performers: Russ, Bruno Mars, and Jason Aldean.
Dream Job: Social entrepreneur advocating for stronger, more connected communities
Quote: Quote: "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." – Maya Angelou

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Bria Bourgeois
Assistant Director

B.S. Organizational Science
The George Washington University

California - Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario
Florida - Central Florida and Panhandle

I am a New Orleans native, raised in Marietta, Georgia. I am a proud alumna of The George Washington University where I earned my B.S. in Organizational Science. During my time at GW, I was a member of the women’s basketball team where I served as an ambassador for our athletic department. As a student-athlete, I worked with hundreds of high school aged students in and out of the D.C. area, to encourage them to be first generation college students. Shortly after graduation, I relocated to Southern California to begin my career in higher education at USC!

Why USC?
USC has always been a dream school of mine. The close knit community here on campus is unlike anywhere else I’ve visited. Much like myself, USC prides itself on being creative and diverse.

Admission Advice:
Identify all of your strengths and interests, and do your homework on how you could fit in here at USC. Do not be afraid to step out of your box and be unique.

Movie: Love & Basketball, Remember the Titans
Food: Fried Catfish with Cajun Fries
Quote: "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take" – Wayne Gretzky

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Ryan Bouziane
Senior Assistant Director

B.A. Print and Digital Journalism
University of Southern California

California – Orange County (South)
Pasadena HS, South Pasadena HS, Maranatha HS, Blair HS, La Salle HS

I went to my first USC football game when I was 8 years old. Carson Palmer led the Trojans past Arizona State, and I ate soft pretzels with ketchup like some type of insane person. The revelry of that day stuck with me and inspired my dream to become a Trojan. I graduated from USC in 2015, and started working in admission just a few months later. So, while I typically eat soft pretzels like a normal human person these days, not much has changed. I love USC, and the opportunity to give back to the community by working for the university is an amazing feeling.

Why USC?
With a strong academic reputation, a historic athletic tradition, a supportive community, a vibrant social scene, and a Panda Express on campus, USC has it all.

Admission Advice:
Take chances. Allow your application to be a true representation of who you are, not who you think we want you to be. By demonstrating your individuality – your quirks, your unique perspective, your heart – you will set yourself apart from other applicants.

Movie: Children of Men and Fight Club
Food: California Burrito
Quote: “Yesterday’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why.” – Hunter S. Thompson
Book: A Storm of Swords
Music: Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar

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Camille Bradshaw
Assistant Director

B.A. English and Narrative Studies
University of Southern California

California – Far Northern California
Washington State - Vancouver and Peninsula

Having lived in a small town in Oregon for my entire life, USC seemed intimidating when I first came to visit my sister as a sophomore in high school. After a couple years passed and I returned to SC, I found that my experience changed drastically. I loved the big campus feel, with the community-oriented intimacy I found as I attended classes and organization meetings with my sister. Through my position in admissions I get to help students realize the potential of the university, and the potential to find themselves at USC like I did.

Why USC?
USC is a place full of opportunities. You can build sets in the School of Dramatic Arts, and build rockets with Viterbi students, and build friendships with fellow students in our more than 850 student organizations. Outside of USC, there are a plethora of internships to be found in Los Angeles, and many organizations to join to help serve the community.

Admission Advice:
Use the essay and short answer section of the application as a snapshot of who you are, we want to get to know the real you, and one way we are able to do this is by hearing your story, told through your voice.

Movie:Unusual Suspects
Food: Chocolate pretzels, gnocchi, and blackberries
Musical Performer: Blitzen Trapper
Book: Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett and Self-Help by Lorrie Moore

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Kelsey Bradshaw
Senior Assistant Director

B.A. Psychology
University of Southern California

California – Santa Barbara, Ventura County

I spent the first 18 years of my life in West Linn, OR, but wanted to try something different for college. The first time I visited USC I fell in love and couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Attending USC was the best decision I’ve made and once graduation came around, I didn’t want to leave. So I didn’t! I’m so excited to be a part of the USC office of admission and to see future generations of Trojans fall in love with USC the way I did.

Why USC?
The combination of the academic rigor, a lively social culture, athletic excellence, and amazing faculty gives USC students an outstanding foundation for whatever career path they choose to follow after graduation.

Admission Advice:
Choose a major that you are actually passionate about and want to pursue. Your interest (or lack thereof) for that field is obvious. If you don’t know what you’re interested in, or are still deciding, then choosing “undecided” is okay, you have plenty of time to figure that out.

Movie: Anything Disney
Food: Mediterranean
Quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” -Unknown
Book: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Aaron Brown
Associate Director

B.A. International Relations (Global Business)
University of Southern California

California - Bellarmine Prep, The Harker School

When I was a freshman, coming to USC and Los Angeles from a small-town suburb of Sacramento was quite a step outside of my comfort zone – though in hindsight one of the best decisions I have made. I became interested in admissions after working as an intern in the office while an undergraduate, and have been proud to serve my alma mater since graduation.

Why USC?
The combination of a first-rate academic and intellectual environment, unique and varied social and extracurricular opportunities, and the sense of community embodied by the Trojan Family make USC an unparalleled institution for an undergraduate education.

Admission Advice:
Follow directions; it tells us a lot about you.

Movie: The Lives of Others
Food: Anything Mexican
Quote: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” --Winston Churchill
Role Model: My Parents
Dream Job: Top Gear presenter
Book: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

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Clay Busia
Senior Assistant Director

B.S. Business Administration
University of Southern California

California – San Mateo County, West Los Angeles
Correspondence, Home and Non-Traditional schools

Born and raised in Los Angeles, I am proud to be from one of the most dynamic, diverse, and vibrant cities in the world. As the child of educators, I believe there is no better tool in life than that of an education. My passion for empowering others through access to quality education led to my pursuit of a career in higher education.

Why USC?
With access to top-tier athletics, ground-breaking research, breath-taking displays of art, time-honored traditions, and a truly global perspective, USC is a world-class center of learning and discovery where students are accepted, valued, and encouraged to grow as leaders.

Admission Advice:
Do your research. Find schools with programs that support your interests both inside and outside of the classroom and communicate those interests in your application. While it is tempting to become set on one school or program, don't shut yourself off to other viable options during your college admission journey.

Food: Balkan and Mediterranean
Quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -- Eleanor Roosevelt
Role Model: My parents
Dream Job: Philanthropist

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Hayley Camin
Senior Assistant Director

B.A. Film Production
University of Southern California

California – Central Coast, East San Fernando Valley
Missouri - Kansas City and St. Joseph

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and was determined to leave my home town for college. After researching and visiting many schools out of state, I found the perfect place for me, right down the road. I remained in L.A. to attend USC, and graduated with a degree in film production. I worked in television for several years, but I couldn't stay away from USC for long. Now I'm back on campus and thrilled to be working with prospective Trojans.

Why USC?
USC has the perfect balance of rigorous academics and a robust social scene. It's an environment that fosters growth both in and out of the classroom. And let’s not forget our unwavering school spirit.

Admission Advice:
Gather information, ask questions, and be open to new opportunities. Your top choice may end up being a school you never expected.

Movie: The Wizard of Oz or anything by Alfred Hitchcock
Food: Cheese, avocados and See's Candy
Musical Performer: The Beatles
Dream Job: HGTV host

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Ramiro Campos
Assistant Director

B.A. Magna Cum Laude, Sociology
University of California, Riverside

California - South Los Angeles, Central Valley (South)
New Hampshire

I grew up in Los Angeles just a few miles away from USC and I remember walking through campus as a kid and being amazed by all the majestic buildings. In 2012, I began my career in higher education at UCLA and worked in both financial aid and undergraduate admission. After almost three years, I decided to join the admissions team at the University of Redlands where I had the opportunity to lead their international recruitment efforts and do some diversity work. I love to travel, eat, watch reality shows, and see Beyonce in concert!

USC is located in Los Angeles, a global city with a vast array of cultural and professional opportunities. The variety of academic endeavors—like research—that students are able to take advantage of are truly incredible.

Admission Advice:
Although it is always a great idea to get advice from folks during this process, always remember that YOU are the one that is ultimately applying to college. Don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments to show us how amazing you are. This is your time to shine!

Quote: “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”―Martin Luther King Jr.
Role Model: Parents
Musical Performer: Beyonce
Book: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

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Becky Chassin
Assistant Dean

B.A. Sociology
Pomona College

M.A. Communication Management
University of Southern California

Harvard-Westlake School, The Viewpoint School

I grew up in Arizona and have lived in Southern California for the last 14 years. When I’m not reading applications, you can find me at the yoga studio, in the kitchen baking, or trying a new restaurant.

Why USC?
USC has so many options for students: academic, social, and extracurricular. It’s easy to see why students are so excited about spending their college careers here.

Admission Advice:
Remember, there’s a person on the other end of your application; we’re just trying to get to know you.

Movie: Say Anything
Food: Chocolate chip cookies
Quote: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." --Ferris Bueller
Musical Performer: Death Cab for Cutie
Book: The Devil in the White City

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Julie Chiu
International Admission Officer

B.A. Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles

Arizona State University

South Cental Asia

I didn’t study abroad while I was in college so I made up for it as an adult. I lived in Beijing, China for seven years to work with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and international admissions. I loved the intercultural experiences, from trying local street food to learning to speak Mandarin. Living abroad has given me an international network of friends, provided a global perspective, and inspired my passion for working in a multicultural environment.

Why USC?
USC offers a cornucopia of programs and resources from which to explore and learn. The university and the city of Los Angeles offers endless possibilities to experience something new and to enrich your college experience. USC is a global institution and has an incredibly diverse atmosphere.

Admission Advice:
Join activities, clubs and choose your major that truly interests you. Pursue experiences and collect stories worth telling in your personal statement. Let your enthusiasm and your authentic voice shine through in your words.

Movie: Pretty Woman
Food: Bacon
Quote: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so" – Mark Twain
Musical Performer: Prince
Book: Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

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Jennifer Cox
Assistant Director

B.S. Business Administration and Songwriting (minor)
University of Southern California

California- San Francisco
Rhode Island

I hail from Boston proper, and even though nothing beats a hot cup of New England clam chowdah, I decided to make the move across the country because I knew USC was the perfect fit for me. During my time as an undergrad, I sang in an all-female a cappella group and worked as a Resident Assistant and student Admission Ambassador. Now as a proud Trojan alumna, I feel so lucky to have the privilege of reading applications and guiding high school students through the ins and outs of our admission process.

Why USC?
It’s impossible to pick just one thing, but one of the best parts of USC is the students! We have Trojans from all over the country and all over the world who come from widely different backgrounds and have different passions. Students at SC often double major or have a minor, and pursue multiple interests by joining some of our 800+ student organizations. You might befriend a neuroscience major with a business minor who has a passion for the arts and is on a dance team. No matter what the major or minor is, USC students are supportive of each other and create a true sense of Trojan Family.

Admission Advice:
Find out as much as you can about each university you’re applying to. While a campus visit is a great way to get a feel for a school, it’s not always possible to book a flight or miss classes. Do some research on your own: USC’s Admission Center has around 100 student Tour Guides and Admission Ambassadors who are happy to take your call, answer your questions, and talk about their student experience; many of our student orgs have Facebook pages or their own websites; The Daily Trojan, our student run newspaper, publishes articles online and often covers events happening on campus. If you’re able to come to campus, try walking around on your own to see if you could imagine yourself as a Trojan. Whichever schools you’re applying to, be informed so you’re able to find the right fit for you.

Movie: Pitch Perfect, Mary Poppins, and The Sound of Music
Musical Artists: Too many to choose, but I can never get enough Stevie Wonder
Food: 3-way tie between curly fries, cronuts, and pizza
Quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." – Margaret Mead

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Derek DuBose
Senior Associate Director

B.A. Communication
The University of Toledo

California- Santa Monica High School, The Webb Schools, Crossroads School

I was born and raised in the football capital of America…Canton, OH! Growing up just minutes from the Pro Football Hall of Fame met much of my life would be rooted in spirit and tradition, which has made working on a college campus and helping student’s navigate the college search, a perfect fit. I have worked in college admissions for nearly thirteen years including Miami University, George Mason, and most recently at The Ohio State University. Outside of the office, you will find me giving back to my professional community as a Board Director for the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, and as a former college cheerleader, judging and coaching the next generation of competitive cheerleaders. It is clear to see that I have a variety of interests and from an early age my parents encouraged me to explore all of my talents and to be open to the opportunities that come along the way. Just like your time at USC, I hope that you will do just the same.

Why USC?
USC is such a special place that allows you to explore your academic curiosities, while being creative and having a deeper understanding for your personal passions and future aspirations. We will challenge you to be your very best, prepare you for life’s adventures, and support you every step of the way. Fight On!

Admission Advice:
Keep it real. As you navigate this process you may find yourself at an impasse where you question your worth, or if you have done enough. Just know that we are all cheering for you and want to celebrate you for who you are, and what you will bring to the Trojan family.

Movie: Home Alone
Food: Cheryl’s Cookies, Red Velvet Cupcakes
Role Model: My parents
Book: The Audacity of Hope

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Kellie Graham
Assistant Director

B.A. Public Relations
University of Southern California

California – Hollywood/Wilshire area of Los Angeles
Massachusetts (excluding Boston and Cambridge areas)

As a Southern California native, my early years were spent exploring the many vibrant communities in and around Los Angeles. With endless points of interest, a wide array of cultures and gorgeous weather year-round, staying in LA for college was an easy decision. After earning my degree from USC, I was able to spend several years working in Disneyland’s Entertainment Department with performers from all over the world. And now I’m back at my “Happiest Place on Earth” to work with the next generation of the Trojan Family!

Why USC?
While USC boasts rigorous academics, hundreds of student organizations and a top-tier athletics program, the most extraordinary aspect of the university is the Trojan Family. This network is lifelong and worldwide. Whether you need a lead on career opportunities or just someone to watch the game with, your Trojan Family will be there for you and is what makes USC special.

Admission Advice:
Be authentic! If you aren’t passionate about the major you’re choosing, the essay you’ve written or even the college you’re applying to, it’s conveyed in your application. So do your research and present your best self to the admission department.

Quote: “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.” – Sam Ewing
Book: The Count of Monte Cristo
Food: Mexican food and any combination of chocolate/peanut butter
Greatest Invention: Headphones
Musical Performer: Luke Christopher

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Bryan Green
Assistant Director

B.A. Liberal Studies, Sociology Concentration
Jacksonville State University

California – Santa Clara County (excluding San Jose)
Illinois – Chicago Suburbs

Reigning from the hospitality state, I am a proud New Albany, Mississippi native. As a 2015 graduate of Jacksonville State University (JSU) in Jacksonville, Alabama, I am so excited to be bringing my southern charm to the Admission Office. I relocated to Los Angeles from Jacksonville in the spring of 2016. While attending JSU, I was involved with various campus groups and organizations, which ignited my passion for Higher Education.

Why USC?
Since relocating to Los Angeles, I have developed a great admiration for this city. While previously working for USC in the Transportation Services department, I fell in love with the university. The pride and camaraderie that USC has reminds me of home in so many ways! I am truly enjoying my time here as a professional staff member and look forward to furthering my education as a graduate student!

Admission Advice:
Don’t be afraid to explore lots of options. When applying, be sure to let your true character reflect in your writing. Seeing that you may not have an opportunity to meet your counselor one-on-one, this is your chance to show us who you are! Do not focus on us and what you think we want to hear, this is about you!

Movies: The Color Purple & The Lion King
Food: Wings & Pizza
Musical Performer: Brandy & Beyoncé
Quote: “Never go Eric Benét” –Shawn Carter

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Bruce Grier
Associate Director

B.A. Political Science
University of Southern California

California - North San Diego County, Francis Parker School

I grew up in the Midwest. I was in the U.S. Navy and have worked at USC for 25 years.

Why USC?
Great education and a great environment.

Admission Advice:
Be patient and study hard.

Movie: The Godfather I & II
Food: Steak
Role Model: My father
Musical Performer: Early Bob Dylan
Book: Almost any history book.

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Michael Gulotta
Associate Director

B.A. History
Loyola University of New Orleans

M. Ed. Guidance/School Counseling
Louisiana State University

California – La Jolla Country Day, Cathedral Catholic, La Jolla HS, The Bishop's School
North Dakota
South Dakota

I am a proud son of Chalmette, Louisiana, a pleasant suburb located just a few miles outside of New Orleans. I started my career as a high school counselor in Louisiana before joining the USC Office of Admission in 2007. After five wonderful years, I had the opportunity to join the Admissions team at American University in Washington, DC, and spent two terrific years in the nation’s capital before returning to USC in 2014. I love running, watching Seinfeld reruns, and telling people about how much I love the New Orleans Saints.

Why USC?
USC is a place that isn’t afraid to take risks. It is a university that is always looking for creative and innovative approaches to higher education, and it is such an exciting place to be.

Admission Advice:
I love working in college admissions because it provides the opportunity to work with students at such an exciting time in their lives. As I get farther removed from my own college years, I realize more and more that there is no better time than the college years to take risks, so whatever your interests may be, seek out universities that will give you the chance to pursue them. Use the college admission process to think about all the possibilities that lie ahead.

Food: Boiled Crawfish and Hubig’s Pies
Role Model: Drew Brees, Quarterback of the New Orleans Saints
Favorite Quote: “Pigs have flown! Hell has frozen over! The Saints are on their way to the Super Bowl!” – Jim Henderson, the voice of the New Orleans Saints, after Garrett Hartley’s field goal in the NFC Championship Game sent the Saints to their first Super Bowl appearance.
Book: Once a Runner, by John L. Parker

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Angelica Gutierrez
Assistant Director

B.A. Latin American and Latino/a Studies
Vassar College

M.Ed. Student Affairs
University of California, Los Angeles

California - Covina and West Covina
Arizona - Tucson
New Mexico
Texas - West Texas and Panhandle
Upstate New York - Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany

I grew up just blocks from USC and my mother still lives in the area. I definitely enjoy the end of work day when I can just walk over and have dinner in her home. I was a rebellious teenager that decided going all the way across the country was best for me at the time. I always knew I would come back. USC has been a part of my education since I was in 1st grade. I have experience working in college access for underrepresented student populations and look forward to reading applications for USC. I’m finally part of the Trojan Family, FIGHT ON!

Why USC?
I am always amazed by the challenges USC students are willing to take on in a collaborative environment. I think USC is the place for students who know how to be scholars but also take full advantage of campus resources. Students here learn how to balance going to class, doing homework, and then maybe going to a concert or a football game.

Admission Advice:
Don’t be afraid to write about something that speaks to you. Let me know about the challenges you see in your community and/or in your daily life and tell me how you hope to change them. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in your personal statement.

Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy or the new 2016 Ghostbusters
Fictional Character: Louise Belcher
Music: Beyonce
Book: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua

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Alejandra Hernandez
Assistant Director

B.A. International Relations
University of California, Davis

M.Ed Student Affairs
University of California, Los Angeles

California – City of San Jose

I grew up in a little gem of a town in southern California called Oak View. At 18, I moved to northern California to pursue a degree in International Relations at UC Davis. After graduating, I worked at the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento. I helped coordinate the Consulate’s annual bilingual college fair, which sparked my interest in demystifying the college admissions process for both students and parents. After seven years away, I came back to southern California to earn my Masters in Education. I am excited to be a member of the USC admission team because I want to empower, support, and advocate for students as they pursue their dreams.

Why USC?
Maintain your authentic voice in your essays and short answers. Remember, admission counselors are available and happy to help answer your questions.

Admission Advice:
Maintain your authentic voice in your essays and short answers. Remember, admission counselors are available and happy to help answer your questions.

Movie: Mr. Deeds
Fictional Character: Ted Mosby from "How I Met Your Mother
Book: Anything by Mario Benedetti pulls at my heartstrings
Music: Michael Bublé and Ana Gabriel
Food: Enchiladas and blueberries

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Hillary Higgins
Senior Assistant Director

B.A. English Literature
University of Michigan

Juris Doctor
Southwestern Law School

California - West San Gabriel Valley
Washington D.C.

As a native to Los Angeles, I believe there is no better city in the world. After spending four years in the mid-west, I immediately returned home and began a career in education via law school. As a member of the Trojan Family, I am excited to advocate for students and teach them all about the opportunities ahead.

Why USC?
USC is an incredibly diverse atmosphere both educationally and socially. Students can really find the area that suits them and delve in whole-heartedly. There are endless ways to get involved at USC and really find your home. I believe college is where kids become adults, and finding the right environment is the most important part.

Admission Advice:
Find the school the grabs your heart! There will probably be more than one, so make sure to do your research and find the best fit for you.

Book: Harry Potter
Movie: Mystic Pizza, The Notebook, pretty much any romantic comedy
Food: My mom’s matzo ball soup, pizza, dark chocolate, and frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles

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Marcel Hite
Assistant Director

B.A. Literature and Psychology
Claremont McKenna College

California - Mountain View HS, Los Altos High School, Saint Francis, Los Gatos HS

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, I found my way to Southern California through my alma mater, Claremont McKenna College. After working in the Office of Admission at my alma mater as a student, I found myself working in this field immediately after graduation, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! With a short stint in Northern California under my belt and after learning more than I imagined, I’m excited to be back in SoCal and working with such an amazing team here in the USC admissions office.

Why USC?

No matter what your interests are – whether socially, academically, professionally – there is something for everyone at USC and plenty of opportunities to try something new!

Admission Advice:
Tell us about who you are rather than what you think we want to hear. Every student has a story to tell so don’t be afraid to tell yours! The main goal of the application is to highlight the kind of person you are and hope to be, both in and out of the classroom. So there isn’t a right or wrong way to complete your application as long as you’re being honest and showcasing the journey that’s gotten you where you are today.

Food: Nachos or pasta
Quote: "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." – Walt Disney
Dream Job: Screenwriter
Movies: Vertigo

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Kevin Hostetler
Associate Director

B.A. International Affairs and German Language and Literature
The George Washington University

Middle East

I have loved the thrill of encountering cultures since I was a kid. The moments of intercultural connection, from learning to cook a new cuisine to practicing a new language with a stranger on a train, have led me to a career helping students from around the world to discover the beauty of our global world. After college, I started working in international admission at both The George Washington University and UCLA before finding my way to USC.

Why USC?
USC provides all of the benefits of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research institution. Add the global, diverse city of Los Angeles to the mix, and you have one of the most outstanding universities in the world.

Admission Advice:
Think of the application process as your first college class. You will be asked to do research, write papers, and be self-reflective on your future. Although it can be stressful, try to enjoy the experience. You are making a big, exciting decision that will change the trajectory of your life.

Movie: Atonement and The English Patient
Food: Mango Sticky Rice
Quote: "The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes." - Frank Lloyd Wright
Musical Performer: Celine
Book: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

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David Jones
Assistant Director

B.A. Anthropology/Sociology
Knox College

California – Alameda County
South Carolina

I am a proud Colorado native, growing up in Bronco Country (Denver, CO). After 18 amazing years I left the Rocky Mountains and took my talents to the Midwest where I started my career at my alma mater, Knox College in 2015. When offered the opportunity to join the USC admission team I did not hesitate to come out to Los Angeles as fast as I could. I enjoy traveling to new places, staying active, going to the movies, cooking, and spending quality time with my family and friends.

Why USC?
Coming from a liberal arts institution, I have quickly found that USC offers the exact same intimate experience to their amazing students while presenting them with great opportunities and virtually unlimited resources. USC is a place where you will not only find your fit within the University, but you will be surrounded by people you will aspire to be. This will bring out the best in anybody, and I am proud to represent the Trojan Family!

Movie: Titanic and Training Day
Food: My mother and I’s Seafood Gumbo!!
Quote: John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
Favorite Fictional Character: Dwight K. Schrute
Role Model: My parents

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Stanley Liu
Assistant Director

B.A. Psychology
University of Southern California

M.A. Teaching (Social Science)
University of Southern California

California – L.A. South Bay, San Marino HS

As a freshman at San Marino High School (Go Titans!), I knew I wanted to be in education. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by passionate educators who inspired me to want to make a difference. After receiving my degrees at USC (Fight On!), I worked as a high school teacher at L.A. International Charter High School (Go Bulldogs!). I developed an interest in college admissions after guiding many of my students through their college application process. Being back at USC is an amazing experience and I am happy to be working with prospective Trojans!

Why USC?
You will meet some of the most talented and diverse group of friends, be encouraged to get out of your comfort zone, and form lifelong memories through the many university events, football games, and clubs USC offers. One of my favorite professors at USC, Eric Trules, would always tell us to "take that train of opportunity". USC is an opportunity you can't miss.

Admission Advice
Write about what actually matters to you.

Movie: Midnight in Paris and Pleasantville
Book: The Count of Monte Cristo
Greatest Invention: Taylor Swift
Role Model: My brother
Quote: “T. Swift is awesome!” – me

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Yamilet Medina López
Associate Director

B.S. Recreational Administration
M.Ed. Counseling in Student Affairs
Texas State University

California – Marin County
U.S. Territories
Latin America (including Mexico)
Multicultural Recruitment

My roots are in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I left home to pursue college in Texas and since then have lived and worked in Texas, New York, Florida and now California. I have been working in college admission and Student Affairs roles for the past eleven years. Before coming to USC I worked at Texas State University, St. Edwards and the University of Miami. I have had the opportunity to come across amazing students and wonderful families in wonderful places and learning about other cultures continues to open my eyes to how much we all have in common in this global world. I believe higher education changes lives and I am committed to helping students access it! When I am not visiting high schools or reading admission files I am planning travel to new places, watching fútbol, or spending time with my chosen family – this includes my dog Seany. I have a very eclectic taste in music and really do enjoy a small venue live show!

Why USC?
USC is an incredibly innovative place, if I had to describe it to a prospective student in one word I would have to say: Dynamic! Students have so many options in the variety of programs, abundant resources and opportunities available in the Los Angeles area, it is truly vibrant. USC is the perfect balance of academic excellence along with a great social environment!

Admission Advice:
Visit as many college campuses as you can and ask questions. Remember, this will be the place you call your second home for a while and you need to feel it is a place where you can be yourself and explore your potential. Trust your gut feelings.

Book: Tuesdays with Morrie, The Old Man and the Sea & The Alchemist
Food: Mofongo! And anything fruit and veggies!
Movie: Motorcycle Diaries and 500 Days of Summer
Role Model: My mother
Quote: “Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You've got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.” – Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist

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Nathan Mack
International Admission Officer

B.A. Linguistics and Slavic Languages and Literatures
The University of Kansas

M.Ed. Higher Education Administration
The Pennsylvania State University


I graduated from the University of Kansas and have been working in college admission for multiple years, including at (prior to USC) Franklin University Switzerland. I deeply enjoy the work that I am able to do as I help students consider higher education and discover the best fit college or university for them. My favorite pastimes are studying foreign languages and traveling – especially internationally! I love to explore and enjoy the grand adventure that is life. When not on our beautiful campus, you will find me reading a good book, planning my next vacation, or going on a hike!

Why USC?
What impresses me most about USC is that the institution really has it all – a insane variety of impressive academic programs, curricular flexibility, a gorgeous campus, school spirit, a vibrant urban location, successful graduates, engaged students, and more! I truly believe that this unique combination of features is unmatched anywhere else on the globe and I bet almost anyone could find a home here.

Admission Advice:
Tell us your unique and individual story – and if you don’t think you have one, I promise you that you do. Consult your friends, teachers, parents, counselors if you’re stuck. Don’t tell me what you think I want to know to hear, because I have probably seen it before and it will not help you stand out. Have confidence in yourself and your story and convey it to us with passion and enthusiasm. These small things can make a huge difference!

Movie: Love Actually
Favorite Snack: Trader Joe’s Thai Lime and Chili Cashew
Place you are most content: By the pool or on the beach
Dream job: I want to be the next Rick Steves
Quote: "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." –St Augustine

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Molly Anne Malinick
Assistant Director

B.S. Horticulture
Auburn University

Texas – Houston and San Antonio

Sweet Home Alabama. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama I have made a large leap to Southern California. I received my degree from Auburn University with a background in Horticulture. War Eagle! I delight in flowers, cooking new recipes, and exploring the city of Los Angeles.

Why USC?
As I continue to learn more and more about this Trojan Territory, I realize that USC offers a unique and dynamic education. Research is a beautiful piece of the pie with limitless opportunities across disciplines. Just as important is the Trojan Network that pours back into the community.

Admission Advice:
There are many different careers available to you in this world. Spend time discovering your interests, skills, and passions in order to give you a better idea of different career paths. You will grow as a student, a friend, and a man or women during your time in college. I encourage you to find the best atmosphere for you.

Movie: Forrest Gump
Musical Band/Performer: Ben Harper
Food: Seafood please!
Dream Job: Florist or a Farmer
Musical Performer: James Taylor

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John Marfield
Associate Director

B.S. Communication
Boston University

M.Ed. Higher Education
University of Southern California

M.S. Anthropology
Oxford University

Ph.D. Education
University of California, Los Angeles

New York – Manhattan
Riverdale Country School, Horace Mann, and Fieldston

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but moved to Boston for my undergraduate years. After getting my fill of icy winters and humid summers, I scurried back to LA to begin my career in higher education.  Over the years I have worked in admissions offices at UCLA, USC, and NYU, and have picked up a few graduate degrees along the way. In my free time I like to try new restaurants, listen to live music, and travel.

Why USC?
This is a dynamic campus that offers numerous engaging learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom. There is a lot of flexibility with our curriculum, and it’s easy to construct a college experience that works just for you.

Admission Advice:
Give a lot of thought to your personal statement and short answer questions. This is your opportunity to tell us about yourself beyond your grades and test scores, and we really value your life experience. Don’t write about something that you think we want to hear – just be yourself!

Food: French fries
Musical Band/Performer: Ben Harper
Book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, A Single Man, Motorcycle Diaries
Role Model: My dog, Goldie
Greatest Invention: Reality TV
Dream Job: Musician (with talent)
Fictional Character: Liz Lemon

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Nicole Molina
Senior Assistant Director

B.A. Women and Gender Studies
Vanderbilt University

M.Ed. Organizational Leadership and Communication
Belmont University

California – Arcadia HS
New York – Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx
New Jersey – Southern New Jersey

I was born and raised in The Bronx, N.Y. and am a proud POSSE Scholar! I was able to work at my alma mater for six years in their admissions office, which exposed me to this ever-evolving world of undergraduate admissions. While there, I traveled all over Southern California and just felt so much at home all those many travel seasons. Who would have thought that a TRUE New Yorker would love California? Nevertheless, to be able to now call Southern California home is truly the song title from “New York to California.”

Why USC?
I always trust my gut and when I stepped on this campus, I just knew I had to be here. Laugh if you must, but I feel at peace here! The spirit, the pride, the electricity and space to be as you are, makes USC a place for me. Plus, let’s be honest, there is something about that California sun glowing on the red brick that makes it hard not to love!

Admission Advice:
Take it day by day. This process is not about my interests and wants; this is about you! Don’t worry about what you think I may want to see or hear. My job is to meet you where you are, not make you what you have yet to be!

Movie: Gladiator
Food: Pizza
Music: Anything Jay-Z and Daddy Yankee
Quote: “Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.” – Imam Ali

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Tina Nguyen
Assistant Director

B.A. Social Welfare

California – Contra Costa County, Culver City HS, Palisades Charter, Hamilton HS
North Carolina

I was born and raised in sunny Southern California in Garden Grove. Ironically, I grew up dreaming of attending college in Los Angeles, but after being a Southern California girl all my life, I thought transferring was the perfect time to get out and explore a new place- the Bay Area. Although I loved the Bay for all it offered, I chose to return back to the sun and warmth to be closer to family after graduating. Higher education has always been extremely important within my household. Seeing my parents cross oceans to allow my sister and me to receive a better education for more opportunities drove my passion in the field of higher education; therefore, I want to continue being an advocate for all communities striving to gain college admission. Asides from being an admission counselor, I love staying active, adventuring, listening and making music, and most importantly, eating! You can always find me snacking. My motto is simple: think in years, live in days.

Why USC?
USC is a place filled with endless opportunities. Coming into the Trojan family as a golden bear, the spirit of the Trojan family is something that really speaks for itself.

Admission Advice:
Don't be afraid; the college search process may be intimidating at first, but stay hungry, be curious, and keep an open mind.

Movie: Pursuit of Happyness
Food: Veggies, fries, and tacos
Dream Job: Food taster
Book: The Alchemist
Quote: "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Role Model: Mom & Dad

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Lisa K. Rhone
Assistant Dean

B.S. Business Administration
M.A. Counseling Psychology
University of the Pacific

California - Loyola High School, Marlborough School, Polytechnic School Hawaii

I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and attended college not far from home. After a short stint in corporate America, I returned to my alma mater to begin my career in admissions. After 25 years and three distinctly different institutions, I am enjoying my experience at USC.

Why USC?
USC offers students so many opportunities inside and outside the classroom. It is amazing to see what students accomplish while they are here. It is even more amazing to see what they do with their USC experience once they leave this campus as ambassadors of the Trojan Family.

Admission Advice:
Take advantage of all the information provided to you through the application process. Admission officers are here to be a resource for you during this time. And relax, there is more than one perfect school. Open your mind to find the places where you will thrive.

Movie: The Sound of Music
Food: Mexican food
Quote: Fight On!
Role Model: Mother and father
Musical Performer: Alicia Keys

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Jaclyn Robbin
Assistant Director

B.A. Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles

Ed.S. School Psychology
University of Washington

M.Ed. Student Affairs
University of California, Los Angeles

California – City of San Diego

I was born and raised in San Diego, CA and attended UCLA where I studied psychology and education. After graduating, I combined these two academic interests and worked as a school psychologist in public high schools in Seattle, WA. My experiences with helping students navigate and prepare for the transition to higher education inspired me to move back to southern California so that I could continue this work at the university level (and live in a warmer climate again!). I am passionate about working with students to help them envision and pursue a college education.

Why USC?:
USC offers students a broad array of academic programs and encourages them to pursue their unique educational and extracurricular interests, including honors programs, research, study abroad, internships, student groups, and athletics. It has a strong alumni base and is committed to helping students prepare for the future, whether it be further graduate studies or their career objective.

Admission Advice:
Do your research, ask plenty of questions, be open-minded, beat all of your deadlines, and, most importantly, spell-check everything!

Movie: Remember the Titans, Anchorman, Silver Linings Playbook, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Food: Sushi or anything at Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill
Dream Job: New York City District Attorney on Law & Order
Quote: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." – Groucho Marx

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Maria Rodriguez
Senior Assistant Director

B.A. Sociology & Chicano/a Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

M.Ed. School Counseling
University of Southern California

California – Whittier, North Orange County, Northwood HS (Irvine)
Napa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Davis, Vacaville, Vallejo

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and I feel like I love it more and more every day – there’s always something to do, a concert to go to, a hiking trail to discover, or new food to try, among many other things. My personal favorites are Dodgers games, hiking up to the Griffith Observatory, and laying out in a park or on a beach with a good book. I started working in education while I was in college, which led to the discovery of my passion for working with students. I strongly believe all students should have the opportunity to attend college.

Why USC?
USC is a very exciting place to be. Not only is it an incredibly beautiful campus, but the opportunities for intellectual growth and student involvement are endless – our students do it all! However, the most unique thing about USC is its culture; there is a great sense of community and school pride here.

Admission Advice:
College is about fit. The schools you apply to should reflect your interests and personality. And don’t be afraid to show that personality! Instead of telling us about what you think we want to hear, don’t be afraid to be yourself and to showcase your unique experiences. The personal statement is my favorite piece of the application because it allows you to do just that.

Movie: Up, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Food: French fries
Quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
Role Model: My parents
Book:The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

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Whitney Rollerson
Assistant Director

B.S. Kinesiology
B.A. Psychology
University of Southern California

California – Anaheim

I am a Southern California girl, born and raised. For college, USC was the last place I wanted to go—I did not even want to apply! But after attending Explore USC after I was admitted, I fell in love with this university and knew that this was the place I wanted to call home. While at USC, I worked in admissions and volunteered as an Explore USC student panelist and Explore USC student host. As a senior, I did not want to graduate and leave USC, but I found a loophole! Coming full-circle as an admission counselor, I could not be more excited to join the admission staff of my alma mater.

Why USC?:
USC is truly a place of opportunity; anything you want to do here, you can and more. USC has the perfect mixture of strong academics, cutting-edge research, historic athletic programs and an engaging student life. Our idea of the Trojan Family permeates throughout our campus life and city making USC your home not only for four years, but for life.

Admission Advice:
Be confident in knowing what you want to pursue academically, but still remain open to other possibilities for you never know what might happen. For the essay and short answer questions, let your personality and passions shine through. Letters and numbers only tell us so much about you, so use the writing portion as your chance to tell us who you really are. And finally, when choosing a college, choose the place that you can imagine yourself attending, the place that makes you happy.

Movie: The Bourne Trilogy and Pride and Prejudice
Food: Anything Italian
Musical Performer: Kelly Clarkson, Adele, Melanie Fiona
Quote: "Man is made by his beliefs. As he believes, so he is." –Bhagavad Gita

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Neelam Savla
Senior Assistant Director

B.A. Psychology/Political Science
University of Southern California

M.Ed. Postsecondary Administration & Student Affairs
University of Southern California

California – Corona Del Mar, Newport Harbor HS, Crean Lutheran, Irvine HS, Pacific Academy, Sage Hill, Tarbut V’Torah

I was born and raised in Southern California. I worked as a USC Tour Guide during my undergraduate years and found a passion for the Admission profession. I enjoy learning about new cultures and everything that comes with it – religion, music, and (of course) food. I like spending my time outdoors and going on new adventures. I spend much of my free time rooting for the USC Trojans and the Los Angeles Lakers!

Why USC?
USC has the perfect combination of world class academics and extracurricular and social opportunities. Throw in the unmatched Trojan Family, and you have a university that you can really call home. The number of opportunities students have available to them in all aspects of their education really create a unique and valuable experience that will have a lasting impact.

Admission Advice:
Spend some quality time researching the schools and programs you’re interested in and ask questions. Be yourself; we just want to get to know you.

Food: Chocolate, Popcorn, Paneer
Favorite fictional character: Neville Longbottom
Role Model: My parents
Book: Matilda
Quote: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” –Mahatma Gandhi

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Elliot Shavalian
Assistant Director

B.A. Psychology
Yeshiva University

California – Central Valley (North)
New York – Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County

Being born and raised in LA, when it came time to choosing the right college, I wanted to get as far away from Southern California as possible. After graduating from Yeshiva University in New York, and experiencing what several real winters were like, I wanted to get back to warm weather even more quickly. When I was given the opportunity to join the Admission team at USC, I knew I’d be joining a group of people that are passionate about higher education and helping the next generation of leaders find their calling.

Why USC?
I like to think of USC as both ‘small enough’ and ‘big enough’. USC is small enough to give its students the individual attention they deserve and to help them actualize their goals, while being big enough to offer such a wide variety of courses, activities, and opportunities that will keep the college experience new and exciting throughout each student’s college experience.

Admission Advice:
My biggest piece of advice is to let your passion shine through. Don’t try to write about what you think we want to read. Show us who you are. Show us what you care about. Show us what matters to you. And the rest will follow.

Book: Harry Potter
Food: My grandma’s Persian food
Musical Performer: Lin Manuel-Miranda
Dream Job: Audience pump-up person
Quote: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” –Kathryn Stockett

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Risa Tewksbury
Midwest Regional Director

B.S. Business Administration
University of Southern California

Illinois – Chicago
Missouri - St. Louis & Springfield areas

I grew up in Southern California. Met my husband at USC, where I have worked in admission, financial aid and the Viterbi School of Engineering. We have two children, and have been through the college application process with them, so I know how it feels to be on the other side. I currently reside in the Midwest.

Why USC?
All the benefits of a great private education in a major urban setting with a warm climate. What’s not to like?

Admission Advice:
There is not one perfect school for each student. Keep your options open, and be yourself!

Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Food: Dark chocolate.
Quote: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” --Mahatma Gandhi
Role Model: Yoda
Musical Performer: Indigo Girls
Book: Too many to pick one favorite, but I’ll recommend Tortilla Curtain by our own T. C. Boyle as one suggestion.

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Christine Vargas
Assistant Director

B.A. International Relations and Spanish
University of Southern California

California – Sacramento
New Jersey - Northern New Jersey
New York – Catskills and Hudson Valley

Born and raised in Sacramento, I loved my hometown but dreamed of attending college in sunny Southern California. When my USC acceptance letter arrived in the mail, I was ecstatic! Years later, I am just as excited to work for my alma mater and be able to assist prospective students in their journeys to applying to USC.

Why USC?:
USC offers numerous opportunities for students to participate in different areas of campus life while pursuing an interdisciplinary education. Students are encouraged to create their own unique experiences and are provided with the tools to do so.

Admission Advice:
If possible, visit the schools you are applying to. There's no better way to determine if a school is a good fit than to visit the campus, take a tour, or participate in an information session. Academic programs and undergraduate opportunities are essential components to consider in the college search, but you should also be able to envision yourself on campus for the next four years. You'll know when it's right, trust your gut!

Movie: Grease
Food: French fries, tacos and Gunther's Ice Cream in Sacramento
Dream Job: Panda nanny (yes, it's a real job!)
Fictional Character: Leslie Knope

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Tyler-Rose Veguez
Senior Assistant Director

B.S. Business and Cinematic Arts
University of Southern California

California – Coachella Valley
Texas – Dallas and Fort Worth areas

I grew up in the Beach Cities area of LA.  The moment I stepped onto USC’s campus, I knew it was the place for me.  I got my B.S. in Business and Cinematic Arts while working as a student in the Thornton School of Music.  After graduating, I traveled a bit and realized that I wasn’t done with USC.  It looks like USC wasn’t done with me either, because here I am!  I am thrilled to work with students and help them through this exciting time in their lives.  In my free time, I love taking my dogs to the beach, baking, traveling, and exploring LA – even when you’ve lived here all of your life, there is always something new to discover.

Why USC?:
I like to say that USC embodies the phrase “work hard, play hard.”  Academically, we challenge our students and give them the resources and opportunities they need to pursue a variety of academic disciplines.  Do you want to be an engineer AND a musician?  You can do that at USC.  At the same time, we have a vibrant campus culture.  You can go to a football game one day, a jazz concert the next, and everything in between during the rest of the week.  Not to mention the fact that we’re in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, where the possibilities for culture and entertainment are endless.  It’s great to be on a campus where students really love their school.

Admission Advice:
Numbers only tell us so much.  Try to remember that there is a person reading your application, and we want to know who you are and what your story is.  Make sure to be yourself and use those essays and short answers to your advantage. That’s where we really get to know you.

Movie: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Food: Pizza & Thai food
Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Quote:"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" - Albus Dumbledore
Musical Performer: Imagine Dragons

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Sam Williams
Assistant Director

B.S. Education & Music
New York University

M.Ed. Student Affairs
University of California, Los Angeles

California – Santa Ana area
Arizona – Phoenix and Northern Arizona

Originally from the great state of New Jersey, I knew that I wanted to work in the realm of education access since high school. After going to school in NYC, I moved to Chicago for a year-long fellowship at Urban Prep Academies, where I oversaw the academic and emotional well-being of thirty young men in their first year of high school. From there, I went to the Posse Foundation as a trainer, where I got to work with incredible young people who went to colleges throughout the country. It was my first step into the admissions world, and I soon realized it was a world in which I wanted to be. I soon set my sights on warmer and sunnier skies, and found myself at UCLA for graduate school. While there I worked at both the Undocumented Student Program and the Office for Student Organizations, Leadership, & Engagement. I’m thrilled to have made the move across town to USC to continue on my professional journey in working with students to make the dream of attending college a reality.

Why USC?
Growing up on the east coast, USC always seemed to have this magical aura about it from 3,000 miles away. As I came to learn more about this place, I was blown away by all of the opportunities students have access to both while in school and after. The pride in the institution and in those with whom you share it is infectious!

Admission Advice:
Let your passions shine through in the application! Numbers do not tell the whole story; rather we really want to get to know the person behind the application, and writing about what is important to you will really allow us to do just that.

Movie: The Sandlot and Shawshank Redemption
Food: Chicken Parmesan
Book: White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Musical Artist: D’Angelo
Quote: “Spaceships don’t come equipped with rearview mirrors, they dip, as quick as they can. The atmosphere is now ripped, I’m soul like a Pip.” – Andre Benjamin

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