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Ana Gonzalez USC graduate
Ana González recently celebrated getting her MSW degree from USC, just before her daughter graduated from Harvard University. The family is shown here after Gonzales‘ graduation from the University of La Verne in 2016. (Photo/Courtesy of Ana González)

Determination and grit helped this 59-year-old finally earn her master’s

Inspired by her children, Ana González never gave up. Now, she’s got her degree and years of college memories, including a memorable meeting with President Carol L. Folt.

Science/Technology
Juan Pablo de los Rios Rio Grande pollution
Juan Pablo de los Rios is a chemistry graduate student in Professor Megan Fieser's lab, which is focused on tackling the plastics polluting our oceans. (USC Photo/Mike Glier)

Polluted river sparks first-gen student’s dreams of environmental change

Juan Pablo de los Rios grew up on both the Mexican and American sides of the Rio Grande, which became a dumping ground for toxic waste. As a chemistry grad student at USC Dornsife, he hopes to one day clean that river and others like it.

University
Amy Nham dual PharmD/MPH degree
After graduating, Amy Nham will complete a residency with Indian Health Service, a federal program that assists American Indians and Alaska Natives. (Photo/Linda Wang)

Driven to help the underserved, first-gen student graduates with dual degrees in health

Born in Vietnam to parents with fifth-grade educations, Amy Nham was taught that learning is the way out of poverty. As one of the first students to graduate from USC with the dual PharmD/MPH degree, she plans to use her skills to help those in real need.