October 2017 Student Spotlight - Keren Marroquin

Name: Keren Marroquin

Major:  Communication

Minor: Spanish

Expected graduation: May 2018

Hometown: Upland, California

Why did you choose to attend Annenberg?

I wanted to study a major that allowed me to dream of different career paths. As a freshman in college, it's always daunting to get asked "What's your major" because the following question is always "What are you going to do with that?" Most of us at 18 don't really know with absolute certainty what we want to do for the rest of our lives. I entered USC as a Human Biology major because this kept my answer simple and it was always approved. I was a science major and I was going to be a doctor. My parents were proud and my colleagues were impressed. However, this path did not allow me to explore my true creative passions. When I decided to look into the Annenberg Communication program I realized that there were endless career choices across multiple industries. Positions that I had never even heard of. Who knew that creative marketing or digital media were rising opportunities? Choosing Annenberg has been the most rewarding experience of my life because it has truly shaped my professional development.

Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you've had here at Annenberg.

I was one of 17 selected students that attended the 2017 Annenberg Maymester in the Bay Area. I cannot stress enough how valuable this experience was for me. It was truly eye opening and life changing. At first, I was worried that I could not afford the program but I was honored to be awarded a full scholarship that covered all travel and hotel costs. I always dreamed of a study abroad experience in college and because of this generous support, I was able to accomplish this. You can read all about who I met and what I learned through my LinkedIn article by clicking here. But I think the most powerful takeaway was realizing my full potential simply by listening to the advice provided by top executive leaders. My favorite life lesson was from Pixar's John Lasseter who said "When you work on a project, work on it like it’s the only thing on your gravestone, the only thing you’re known for and make sure it’s something to be proud of." I love this because it has helped me attack every goal, no matter how small or how big, with this mentality; to work at it as if it's the only thing I will ever be known for and make it great.

What makes Annenberg special?

Annenberg truly encourages you to be a well-rounded student across varying disciplines. Through Annenberg, I have acquired public speaking skills, engaged in challenging political discussions, explored Adobe Creative Cloud video editing skills, design skills, and Photoshop skills, studied the athlete's image in film and media, conducted a student technology survey across all Annenberg majors, and even networked with amazing companies such as NBC, PAC-12, Pixar, Edelman, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

What's one thing at USC that no student should miss?

No student should ever miss USC athletic events. I encourage students to attend at least one game of every sport on campus. USC Football, Men's and Women's Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis, Lacrosse, Soccer, Rowing...the list goes on. Our athletes are amazing and very talented. It is so much fun to support our fellow Trojans across all these sports!

Tell us about an experience you’ve had outside of class.

Outside of class, I work as a project manager for Annenberg Associate Dean James Vasquez. In this role, my boss has given me the tools to grow in my professional development. I am in charge of running a technology survey for hundreds of Annenberg students, researching news and technology articles every day, leading a student team, drafting business memos and reports, and engaging in executive meetings. Mr. Vasquez has been not just my boss for the past two years but my mentor who has truly encouraged me to reach my potential throughout my college career. If there is one thing that I believe to be most important in college, is to have a mentor that truly cares about how well you succeed. Mr. Vasquez is that mentor for me.

Tell us about something you're involved with here (a sport, a club, a cause) and how it's changed you.

My favorite involvement on campus has been being a USC Spirit Leader. It allows me to be in an environment where I get to increase the positivity in my life and in others everyday by cheering and spreading Trojan pride. One of my jobs as a Spirit Leader is to keep a smile on my face every time I wear my uniform and greet every crowd at a game or University event. This has truly impacted my life because now whenever I am walking about in my normal day, unrelated to Spirit Leading events, I find myself smiling at strangers and greeting other students, faculty, and staff that pass me by on campus. This has resulted in making new connections and receiving many returning smiles. Spirit Leading has filled my life with confidence, courage, and even more friendliness than ever before.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Figuring college out as a first generation student has been my greatest challenge. I have had to seek out mentors, observe other students, and google many questions in order to figure out my next steps when I first entered college. Also, having the desire to make your parents' lifelong sacrifices worth it all, adds a different kind of pressure to your career path. You just want to succeed as badly as you want to breathe, in hopes of giving back to your family for all the love and support they offered you when they had nothing else to give.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Don't be afraid to try something new. Double major, pick up a minor, try out for activities you are not super great at, attend panels that discuss topics you may have never even heard about. Just really through yourself into every corner of USC to take in ALL that this university has to offer. I have taken piano lessons in the Thornton School of Music, business classes in Marshall, certification courses in Annenberg's Digital Lounge, and tried out multiple different clubs. Not everything sticks but everything teaches you something new about yourself.