Admission Ambassador Interview: Estefania Gonzalez
Graduating year: 2019
Major: NGOs and Social Change
What’s your name?
Alright, Estefania Gonzales. Where’re you from?
Colton, California. Which I like to say is an hour and a half away without traffic, and then if you’re driving in the middle of the night, around 11:00PM or 2:00AM, it’ll take 55 minutes. Does she drive at these hours simply to spite the “traffic-less” daytime commute? But if you add traffic, it can take up to 2-3 hours.
And now you’re in Los Angeles.
How’d that happen?
How’d I get to Los Angeles? We did pretty frequent trips to LA, for reasons such as to buy my quince dress, or my prom dresses, so I was always in LA for those types of things. But I was a transfer student, which means that I committed to a different school my senior year of high school. I didn’t get in to USC, and I thought “I’m not holding my life up for USC, I don’t know if it’s even worth it,”. Also, the freshmen residence hall experience was super important to me, so I decided to go to UC Davis. I absolutely loved it, but I soon recognized that I liked the people more than I liked the school itself. I then had two chances to transfer, BC and USC, and so I applied to both and was admitted to both. My biggest reason to transfer, besides academically, was that financially it lined up to go to USC, but I like to say that the biggest reason is my sisters and family.
I have two younger sisters, one who is six years old so she’s barely starting her life. Honestly Estefania, that’s true for most of us too. And I have a fourteen-year-old sister who’s just starting high school. Being 7 hours away at my previous school was troublesome because I couldn’t see my family that often, and I hated being that big sister that they never saw. Especially for the little one, I didn’t want her going around and telling her friends “Oh yeah, I have an older sister, but I don’t see her that often.” I don’t want that. So I realized it didn’t make sense for me to go to the east coast if distance was a difficulty for me, so I ended up choosing USC. I’m here, and I’m living in LA, which is unreal. It’s very different from travelling, much less dress-buying I assume, but I love it.
What was your experience like as a transfer?
I was the big fish in a small pond in high school. Estefania stands at 4 feet and 11¾ inches tall, but did you know that some European freshwater catfish can reach lengths of over 8 feet? So when I transferred, I thought “pshhh, this is gonna be a breeze transitioning.” A lot of transfers talk about having a hard time transitioning, but I had thought that wasn’t going to be me just because I’m an open, bubbly person, and I get along with people easily.
It was the exact opposite. It was so difficult the first semester because firstly, I was living off campus. But I also think that being a transfer student is hard because as freshmen, everyone is super friendly and want to be friends with everyone, and once they find their friend groups they stay with them. As a transfer, you’re coming in with your entire class already divided into those groups. So my first semester, I didn’t really have friends, but I had acquaintances. I also had a difficult roommate situation which played a massive role in my stressful transition to USC.
I joined Troy Camp, which was wonderful because I met humble people. Affluence was something I had to get used to as well, and so that was another factor to take into consideration. It was just a bunch of things, being involved and attending classes, whereas previously I was just a student. But this time I had joined several organizations, which made it a bit more difficult. But I don’t think it was until I joined the Admission Center that I really fell in love with this place.
Who are you? What do you study, what do you like to do?
Who am I? Wow. Was Estefania truly impressed with the notion of herself? That’s a hard question! The first part of who I am is that I’m a big sister. I’m a mother-bear. I think that something I’ve noticed is that I have this maternal instinct, and I’ve had it for so long, just being the big sister in my family. It’s such a huge part of my life, I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. The glasses Estefania wore made her teariness HD. But as I said, that’s one of the biggest reasons as to why I transferred.
What do you study?
I study Non-Governmental Organizations & Social Change. I used to be a philosophy major, but I realized it wasn’t the absolute best. For me at least. And I thought about how I only have a few more years here, and I might as well make the most out of it. And that included loving the classes I was taking. So actually as I was training to work in the Admission Center, they were talking about the interdisciplinary majors that we offer, and at the time I had no idea what those were. And when they mentioned ‘NGOs and Social Change,’ I thought “hey, that is right up my alley,” because I’ve been volunteering for so long that it’s a fundamental part of me as well. So I just thought “If there’s a major where I can just study non-profits, why not!?”
You work in the Admission Center.
Yes I do.
How’d that happen?
When I was in the summer between my freshman year and USC, I got a job at a truck company back home. I’m grateful for the opportunity, and it taught me a lot. Two things specifically: one, that I have to get out of here. Meaning, I worked hard enough to not stay in the same place. Second, it taught me that I have a special skillset, I then expected Estefania to say she had a particular set of skills, and that she will find me, and she will kill me. But instead, she said, one that I gained in high school. From the camps I did, I was an ambassador for the school, telethons, I served at our scholarship dinners, I was a scholarship recipient, so I was used to being a face of something. I ended up having those opportunities, and taking advantage of them. I had leadership capabilities and people management skills, but was using nothing of what I had learned in the job I had. So when it came to applying for a job at USC, a close friend told me I should get a job where I can just sit and get my homework done.
That didn’t appeal to me at all. I already had that job, and it was life-draining. I wanted to interact with people, I wanted to be doing something. And so when the Admission Center released their application, I got out of my philosophy class at the time, minutes before the application was due, screaming in my head “Ahh! I’ve still gotta get this application essay done!” and so I went outside with my laptop, finished my answers and turned it in.
How do you like your position, now that you’re an Admission Ambassador?
I absolutely love it. I think it made my year here at USC the year that it had been, because 2nd semester is when things started turning around. I love Troy Camp and its people, but working at the Admission Center is a dream come true. When I was in high school, I looked forward to being in college because I wanted to be with people who want to change the world. And now that’s exactly who I’m surrounded by at the AC. ♫Everybody wants to change the world♫ Whether that’s people interning at Discover Loans, people who got a job at Google, or are working as a hotel concierge or an artist or rapper, these are all ambitious people and people with whom I wanted to be surrounded at college. And it’s exactly what I get at the Admission Center.
Finally, tell me a story about something that happened during a work shift of yours.
It was during admitted student season, and one of the best moments I’ve had on the job was when I was working the front desk, and a parent came up and had a piece of paper in her hand. She came up to me and said “Excuse me, can you tell me if this is real?” and I took a look at it, and it said ‘Congratulations, you have been accepted as a Trustee Scholarship recipient,” which is a full tuition scholarship. I told her it was very real, and they didn’t believe me, but I told them again, and said “this is fantastic! Welcome to the Trojan family!”
They had tears in their eyes, and it was such an unreal moment to share with them.