Four spring transfers share their journeys from community college to USC
Students who were focused and determined to become Trojans are savoring their first days on campus.
Xander Singson smiled widely and hugged his family near the Trojan Shrine following spring new student convocation on Friday.
“It really solidified the realization that I’m a Trojan,” said Singson, a sophomore at the USC Marshall School of Business. He began his USC journey this week after three semesters at Los Angeles Harbor College.
Singson is among the more than 350 undergraduate transfer students who earned spring admission to USC after completing at least a year of coursework at a community college or other university. USC accepts sophomore and junior transfer students, and 47% of the spring transfers come from nearly 50 different community colleges in California, according to USC’s Office of Admission.
“We gladly welcome students who began their higher education journey elsewhere,” USC Dean of Admission Timothy Brunold said. “We value the diversity of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences that transfer students bring to our classrooms and campus community.”
Brunold added that USC remains especially committed to enrolling large numbers of students from California’s community colleges.
“These students’ success at USC continues to prove that the well-worn pathway from community college to private university is a realistic and viable option,” he said.
USC acceptance felt ‘like I was outside my body’
Singson had been accepted to several public universities straight out of high school. Still, he remained determined to become a Trojan.
“Once I realized I wasn’t going to USC as a freshman, I still wanted another shot at it,” he said. “When I found out USC accepted sophomore transfers, I was thrilled and I started my application right away.”
Singson was doing homework in his bedroom in San Pedro when he received the portal update from USC: He had gotten in.
“I didn’t scream, I didn’t cry,” he said. “I had a completely blank face and felt like I was outside my body. Since then, it’s like I’m still processing it.”
Singson’s parents served as good academic role models: His dad emigrated from the Philippines and attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, while his mother, an immigrant from Thailand, went to California State University, Long Beach.
“One of my dad’s best friends went to USC Marshall for their MBA, and I talked to him a lot,” Singson said. “After hearing different people’s perspectives and experiences, I could envision myself belonging at USC.”
The softball injury that changed everything
Jasmine Ahdoot, a sophomore at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, was pleasantly surprised by the formality of spring convocation.
“My family was super excited, and my dad showed up in a suit,” she said. “It already felt like a community.”
Ahdoot is a first-generation college student of Mexican and Iranian descent who grew up in Arcadia. During her senior year at Arcadia High School, she suffered a major knee injury on the softball field that cost her athletic scholarship offers from several colleges.
“Softball was off the table at that point because I knew I was going to be out at least a year,” she said. “USC had been a dream school of mine, and my dad said, ‘If you can get into USC, just forget about softball.’”
The pre-med student enrolled at Pasadena City College, where she thrived academically and was close to family and friends. She was prepared to stay at the community college for two years, but was so eager to be a Trojan that she decided to apply to USC as a sophomore. When she got her acceptance letter, Ahdoot cried.
“I’m a lot more confident now, and I’m working toward my goals,” she said.
Veteran enjoys return to school
USC Viterbi School of Engineering junior Foris Huang joined the U.S. Marine Corps out of high school and served for five years. He then went to work for two years at SpaceX, where he was surrounded by engineers — including some who had attended USC.
His colleagues inspired him to continue his academic journey with an eye on USC, where his dad is an alumnus. Huang enrolled as a full-time student at El Camino College in his hometown of Torrance and completed enough classes to transfer to USC as a junior.
“Community college is really good for people just coming out of high school or deciding that they want to go back to school,” Huang said. “I will always credit El Camino [College] for really bringing me back into an educational journey.”
Huang is majoring in industrial engineering and is one of 100 new undergraduate and graduate spring transfer students who are military veterans.
While attending El Camino College, Huang spent time at the college’s veteran center and said he will be looking to be involved with the Veterans Association at USC, which helps student veterans, active-duty students and ROTC students realize their full academic potential.
“The veteran community is very strong at USC,” he said. “I think people would be surprised what veterans can provide to a community.”
Role model for younger siblings
For USC Dornsife sophomore Alexia Ruiz, Los Angeles and USC seemed like a world away from her small hometown of Hobbs, N.M. She set her sights on becoming a Trojan while still in high school, but — as a first-generation student — “it was definitely a struggle” to navigate the application and financial aid process.
Ruiz moved to Southern California and lived with an uncle while attending Los Angeles City College.
“I just didn’t think that I was quite prepared to be independent and to thrive on my own,” she said. “I also got time to explore Los Angeles, to get better at studying and to just bolster myself and get ready for a new school.”
Ruiz is majoring in biology and plans to later attend the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
The oldest of four siblings, she is cognizant of how much her USC acceptance means to her family.
“I love that they’re so proud, and I want to do my best and keep going,” she said. “I just want to show my siblings that they can do it too.”