It’s hard to believe that I am a junior in college, and graduated high school almost three years ago! Entering college was a simultaneously exciting and unnerving time for me – I was so thrilled about going to USC, but the pandemic delayed my arrival to campus by an entire year. Although my freshman year of college was fully online, I learned a lot about myself as a person, and began to make lasting connections in the USC community.

As I move into my third year at USC (cue the disbelief), I wanted to reflect and write a letter to my freshman/sophomore year self. I hope you all can find some comfort and advice in this letter:

Dear Celine,

Hello! This is junior year Celine speaking. I know things seem scary and overwhelming right now – trust me, new beginnings are hard – but let me tell you that things get better. You will make some great memories, and I’m so excited for you to grow and experience all that USC has to offer. Here are some pieces of advice I hope you will follow as you move throughout your college experience.

  1. Take advantage of every. single. opportunity. You never know what could come out of submitting that one application, or going to that club meeting you’re interested in. Your freshman year, you applied to be a part of the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering’s E-Board, and you got the position! Now you’re Vice President of the org and have met your best friends through the organization. Never let opportunities pass you by!
  2. Friends will come. It’s okay to not know people right now. You aren’t going to find your closest friends instantly. Meet as many people as possible, and eventually, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a lovely group of human beings who care about you and make USC feel like home.
  3. Get out of your comfort zone. Yeah, it’s going to be strange. You aren’t in high school anymore! You get to define who you want to be from here on out. Go to that football game with floor mates, ask a classmate to get coffee with you, and take that trip to Berlin – those memories are going to last a lifetime.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Relax! You made it to USC, and you are already doing great. It’s healthy to push yourself to do your absolute best, but also know that you deserve breaks too.
  5. Everything will fall into place. I know it can be overwhelming trying to find a research position, internship, or job. Calm down – it will all work out! Reach out to professors and eventually, you’ll find a research lab you can call home. Know that the internship interview might not be as scary as it seems, and you might even end up getting an offer!
  6. Slow down. College is going to be one of the most exciting times of your life. While it can be tempting to get caught up in the stress and hustle of academics and life in Los Angeles, make sure to stop and be present in it all. Allow yourself to enjoy the college experience at USC…it truly is a beautiful thing.


An Extremely Happy USC Trojan

Celine Vazquez

Celine Vazquez

MAJOR: Biomedical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Montebello, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @celineloveshorchata Within Viterbi I'm involved as a research assistant in a nano diagnostics laboratory and as the Vice President of the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering. Outside of Viterbi, I'm a member of USC Helenes, which is USC's official spirit organization on campus.