Enrolled at the University of Southern California and majoring in Architecture, Yocelyn has already had an eventful first semester. Read on to learn more about Yocelyn, her education, and her view on what it means to be a Pullman Scholar.

What drew you to your college?

While choosing a college, academic rigor was equally important to me as finding an environment where I could explore myself and develop. I chose the University of Southern California because of the resources and opportunities it had as a big university. I always understood that my education was crucial to the future I wanted. As part of that understanding, I wanted a school that pushed their students to take advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom, as well as within. When I visited USC for the first time, I fell in love with four things: 1) the weather, 2) the appreciation for creativity and artistic expression, 3) the resources for Latinx and first-generation students like myself, and 4) its sense of adventure – far from home but close to so many new places to visit like Los Angeles. 

What are your passions or hobbies?

First and foremost, I love to paint and write. Since I’ve been at USC, I’ve gotten involved in many different organizations as well. I volunteer at the South LA animal shelter and am involved with the community garden, DACA’s Allies club, Sky meditation and happiness club, and the Bi club. Additionally, I’ve discovered a new interest in philosophy. As you might have guessed based on these organizations, I’m passionate about a lot of things—love, animals, equity among the human race, preserving nature and the environment, and understanding/learning about cultures, including my own.

What’s your favorite aspect of college? What has your first semester of college been like?

My favorite thing about college is the freedom it grants me. I can choose classes for myself and explore different aspects of my identity without restrictions. My first semester of college has been challenging. They always tell you in high school that college is more work, and I had mentally prepared myself. However, I wasn’t ready for the time-intensive work and all-nighters that accompany my architecture major. Aside from architecture, the thing I struggled with the most was finding my community on campus.

Eventually, I found La Casa, which is the Latinx cultural center, the first-generation group, and the beautiful community in the meditation club. This semester has been about finding my balance with schoolwork and time for myself. I found a few great friends, and when I’m not in the architecture studio working, I’m attending open mics, free concerts and events on campus, or exploring LA. I also enjoy contemplating how the philosophies from classes apply to me and my own meaning of life. 

What do you like about being a Pullman Scholar? What does being a Pullman Scholar mean to you?

I like being a Pullman Scholar because of the community and back-breaking support they gave us as scholars. They call to check in on me monthly to see how I am doing in college. The Pullman Scholars Connect portal gives us access to advice for college, mentors, job opportunities, and skill development. Being a Pullman Scholar means representing my city of Chicago everywhere I go. The Pullman Foundation saw a leader in me, and when I am attending my classes or doubting my abilities to succeed, I remind myself that I was chosen as a leader for a reason. Even when I doubt my abilities, others continue to see my strength and potential.