Ella Katz in the Annenberg Media newsroom.
Photo courtesy of: Ella Katz

Dear Class of 2024

To the Annenberg Class of 2024,

First and foremost, congratulations. It is with open arms that I welcome you to both the Trojan family as well as our smaller, close-knit branch of that family here at USC Annenberg. You should feel comforted knowing that the late nights, early mornings and common app supplements were all well worth it. You all are rock stars. 

I know your freshman year is going to look nothing like mine or anyone else’s freshman year in USC history. Now, if that just made your stomach drop, don’t stress — that’s why I am here. My hope is to help you navigate this big transition, which has become even more complicated given the circumstances of COVID-19.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself so I am not a complete stranger. I am a rising junior studying journalism and minoring in the entertainment industry in the School of Cinematic Arts. On a typical Tuesday, you can probably find me in Doheny Library with friends, on Greek Row, or in USC Annenberg’s Media Center (my second home).

When I was sent home to finish my sophomore year from my bedroom in Chicago, I continued reporting for USC Annenberg Media remotely, with both my political coverage for Annenberg TV News (ATVN) as well as my health and wellness column, Everything But The Bagel.  

While my transition to college didn’t happen during a global pandemic, it most certainly had its ups and downs, like any freshman year does. There is no time in your life like going to college. You get to stay out as late as you want, spend time with whomever you want, and live according to your rules, not your parents’ — what’s not to love about that? 

But, with this newfound independence comes a level of responsibility and maturity that is intimidating for most. That’s what I am here to help you with. To talk about all of the things I wish I knew before I came to USC. Over the next few months, I’m going to write about a few of them that I hope will give you some tools. These are the themes coming up to get the ball rolling: 

Seniority doesn’t matter like it did in high school. The imposter syndrome is real but can be managed. Your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend. Social media makes the freshman experience seem like something it's not. Spreading yourself too thin isn’t necessarily a good thing. Your mental health matters — you have to actively be kind to yourself and embrace saying “no” to prioritize yourself. A diverse circle of peers, and experiences will only help you make the most out of your time at USC. And most importantly, everyone, and I mean everyone, is figuring it out, just like you are. 

So, while nobody knows exactly how the year will pan out, I can promise you we will get through it together. One foot in front of another, one day at a time. If I know one thing for sure, it’s that the world, and our community here at Annenberg, will come out of this stronger and more united than ever before.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, get outside, take deep breaths, and get excited for August — even if we meet in masks.    

Stay healthy, and Fight On!

— Ella

Questions? Concerns? Need a hug? I’m here. 
Email: ellakatz@usc.edu
Instagram: @srirachamayoenthusiast
Twitter: @ellakatz20