A first-generation USC alumnus is inspiring students from the South Los Angeles area to aim for a brighter future by taking them on a tour of USC and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Arthur Argomaniz, who graduated from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, created this program to help students who share his background.
These students only live within a few miles of campus, but most of them have never stepped inside. Through this tour, they will get a chance to see that others from similar backgrounds have been able to not only make it through college, but excel and do powerful work to support disadvantaged youth in their pursuit toward higher education.
“I always jump at the opportunity to work with young people, especially those young people of color living in communities with high levels of violence, gang activity, low educational attainment, high drug and alcohol abuse,” Argomaniz said. “I do this because we never know when that moment of clarity might spark a young person’s mind and propel them forward in life. The type of moment where people realize there is a whole world of possibilities out there.”
As a high school student, Argomaniz was in a similar situation. He started working as a 15-year-old, and school initially wasn’t a priority for him, even though he performed well academically. Upon graduating from high school, he began working full-time while attending community college in order to ensure that he did not have to work manual labor jobs like he saw many people around him doing. Then, at 21, his daughter was born, which led him to realize that his life had become bigger than just him.
“I had one counselor at community college that kept telling me I had good enough grades to go to college, but I always pushed back saying I couldn’t afford it,” Argomaniz said. “With her support and many conversations, I was able to see the big picture. Investing in myself now would mean bigger and better things for me in the long run.”
Despite these difficulties, Argomaniz was able to develop a supportive network that offered him guidance and support at USC.
“I struggled until I started creating a circle of friends and professors that would change my life,” Argomaniz said.
The volunteers have arranged for a group of graduate and undergraduate students, alumni, professors, administrators from the cultural student centers and staff from local community based organizations to come and share parts of their own journeys and experiences at USC. They will end the day with a dinner followed by a closing reflection.
Argomaniz shared what he believes is going to be the most important part of this tour.
“We hope that the [visiting students] see themselves in the shoes of these USC students, that they understand with hard work and determination they can achieve any goal they set in life,” Argomaniz said.