Incoming public relations major Martina Ibrichimova wearing her USC sweatshirt while vacationing this summer in Bulgaria.
Photo by: Martina Ibrichimova

Making connections through storytelling drives this incoming PR major

As a final rite of passage before high school graduation, Martina Ibrichimova opened a time capsule that she created in seventh grade. Pulling open the box of artifacts from her younger self, Ibrichimova saw that she had written a note declaring that her favorite subject was language arts — a passion for the power of words that continues, driving her to choose to study public relations in college, she said.

“When we had to write essays in high school, a lot of people stressed out about the hook of the essay,” she said. “And I’m not saying I didn’t, I definitely did, but I found that to be the most interesting part. I feel like PR is really finding that hook to actually express your message and connect with the audience.”

Ibrichimova, who will be joining USC Annenberg in the Fall as a public relations major, was born on Tiber Island in Rome. When she was 10, her father, who works in the telecommunications industry, was transferred to Florida, where the family lived for most of her childhood. She played tennis and volleyball and acted in musical theater classes, spending many summers back in her hometown of Rome, or in Bulgaria, where her parents were born.

As part of our series on incoming students, we spoke with Ibrichimova about her journey to USC Annenberg.

Why did you choose USC Annenberg?

I was looking for a school that wouldn’t just enable me to succeed in the field that I had chosen, but one that would also allow me to make an impact. I did my research, and what I saw at Annenberg was innovation beyond anything I’d seen elsewhere. What stood out is the focus on social media analytics and digital production — with the media center and the Digital Lounge, there’s just so much that I feel I can explore creatively to craft compelling stories. And it’s done in a way that I can learn to create something that is really meaningful.

What drew you to public relations, specifically?

When I was trying to figure out what to study, I started looking into people-focused careers that really involved a lot of interaction. I arrived at communications, and started looking into it and journalism, and while I found them to be very interesting, PR, in particular, was the one that looked the most interactive to me and also the most dynamic. You’re telling a story, you know? There’s a message that you want to express, and it’s an important one, and you want it to make an impact.

What kind of an impact are you hoping to make?

I’m not entirely sure what specific nonprofit area I would like to go into, but that’s what I’m interested in doing. Spreading awareness and inspiring people has always been something that’s driven everything that I do. It’s giving people the motivation and the power to do what they want to do. In high school I was president of the cancer awareness club, where we came up with different initiatives, even during the pandemic. While we weren’t able to organize “Adopt a Floor” to brighten the cancer patients’ days because of COVID-19, we raised awareness at our school about the different types of cancers and told survivors’ powerful stories.

What are you the most excited about?

Being in such an inclusive community. I talked to a student who went to my high school and just finished her first year at USC, and she told me that even though the year was virtual, she felt everyone was so supportive. It really is that sense of community, the Trojan family. And that was something that immediately stuck with me. I heard about the stories of people going to the airport wearing USC merch and someone telling them to “Fight On.” I’ve already laid out my USC hoodie, which I’m wearing tomorrow when we go on vacation. But when we get to campus, I’m definitely most excited about the community and the fact that this is a very international school.