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Class of 2014 graduates reveal secrets to success

Newly minted grads have some sage advice for the class of 2018

As the class of 2014 celebrates graduation, we asked some of the scholastic stars who earned coveted spots in The Order of the Laurel and the Palm, which is awarded to less than 1 percent of the graduating class, to reflect on their time at USC. The grads revealed their biggest surprises, fondest football memories and advice for undergraduate success.

What one object could you not have done without while at USC?

graduate Leah Singerman

Leah Singerman

My blender! Before I learned how to make smoothies, I was sick all the time because I was so bad at cooking. Getting a blender was probably the best thing I did for my health in college.

– Leah Singerman (psychology, minor in cinematic arts)

I would have to say the couch that my roommate and I have had for the past three years. I can take naps on it and rest from a long day’s work, but it also invites a lot of people into our apartment that we normally wouldn’t get to meet.

– Brenton Caldwell (biomedical engineering)

grad Carlos Portela

Carlos Portela

My USC polo. Whether I was on campus on a beautiful game day or simply out playing a round of golf, my USC polo always showed how proud I was of being a Trojan, and it sparked great conversations wherever I went.

– Carlos Portela (aerospace engineering and physics)

My travel mug. Lots and lots of tea helped me through!

– Kiara Adams (business administration)

The red velvet cake at Lemonade. Oscar worthy cake, it was.

– Evangeline Alva (linguistics, with minors in consumer behavior and advertising)

What was the most unexpected thing that you did here?

graduate Stephanie Aceves

Stephanie Aceves

I applied to travel to Ghana just after graduation with USC Global Medical Brigades. I’m not a pre-med student, nor does my major have anything to do with medicine. At USC, this is more common than not; students are pushed to explore their interests.

-Stephanie Aceves (computer science, minor in drawing)

I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, and met my fiancé.

Kirsten Rice (civil engineering with an environmental emphasis, minor in photography, MS in mechanical engineering)

I joined the USC Spirit Leading team, which doesn’t exactly fall in line with my personality. But it was one of the experiences I will treasure most because I grew comfortable being outside of my comfort zone.

– Kiara Adams (business administration)

Go to the Amazon forest and document a dying language. Who does that?

– Evangeline Alva (linguistics, with minors in consumer behavior and advertising)

grad Maya Raman

Maya Raman

I went to Belize with Problems Without Passports the summer after my freshman year, which was completely unexpected. I was just looking up environmental studies classes and saw one that looked cool, but realized it was offered during the summer. I never thought I’d get in, but I did and it was absolutely the most amazing experience.

– Maya Raman (health promotion and disease prevention and biological sciences)

What is your fondest Trojan football memory?

grad Alicia Guo

Alicia Guo

Being thrown up in the air for this year’s UCLA vs. USC game’s first touchdown.

– Alicia Guo (communication and East Asian languages and cultures, minor in international relations)

Stanford beat us my first three years at USC, often by a tiny margin like a field goal. My senior year, the Stanford game was homecoming, and we won the game at the very end by a field goal. Everyone was hugging and crying, and all the alumni who hadn’t beat Stanford during their time at USC were there to rejoice with us.

– Leah Singerman (psychology, minor in cinematic arts)

Beating at top-ranked 2013 Stanford team at the Coliseum is my favorite memory of a USC game. Students and alumni alike marched onto the field after that game, marking the beginning of a new era for USC football.

– Carlos Portela (aerospace engineering and physics)

What piece of advice would you give to the class of 2018?

Take advantage of USC’s resources during breaks. Don’t just go home — do an Alternative Spring or Winter Break through the Volunteer Center, do a summer study abroad, or get SURF research funding.

– Leah Singerman (psychology, minor in Cinematic Arts)

grad Adeel Mohammadi

Adeel Mohammadi

Don’t be afraid to have convictions and to fight for them, but also be open to the idea that four years from now, your convictions might radically change.

– Adeel Mohammadi (religion and biological sciences, minors in economics and Middle East studies)

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Dare to try new things, and you will learn more about yourself than you would ever imagine.

– Brenton Caldwell (biomedical engineering)

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Class of 2014 graduates reveal secrets to success

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