Today's photo brought to you by my embarrassing teenage self.
I've lived in Azusa my whole life, but my time competing in show choir and marching band brought me in contact with people who came from cities with more opportunities and better funded programs. Even though it now embarrasses me to say it, those experiences made my teenage self almost ashamed to be from Azusa, ignoring the fact that this area is beautiful and there are good, hardworking people in this town. When USC sent me an acceptance letter, I didn't refuse.
USC breeds ambition in its students, and I was no different. In an alumni network of CEOs, Nobel Prize winners, Oscar winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, etc., I wanted to improve my lot in life for the sake of my family. USC was my ticket to an amazing career and legacy.
Throughout my college years I received a great amount of help from my professors, classmates and mentors. And through many reflections, I also saw that I benefited from the kindness of many people in Azusa such as my teachers and the Azusa Women’s Club. My career path recently changed, which I briefly wrote about, and I realized that I wanted to pass on the kindness I've been blessed with by helping other people.
When I graduated from USC and moved back to Azusa, I felt like I was letting a lot of people down. I'm a recipient of many scholarships, for instance, and it was all because someone believed that I would do more to contribute to the world than move back home. Yet for financial and personal reasons, I had to make that move. It felt like an adjustment from the world of privilege I had been given access to. Some of my peers have jobs at Fortune 500 companies, and many others are on a career trajectory that will take them far.
But what matters most to me is what I do with my privilege as a Trojan.
Now that I'm 22 I wish I could have told my teenage self that every person has their own path in life. If I didn't spend so much time trying to leave I could have seen that much sooner. Instead of using my talents to leave Azusa, I could have used them to help out instead.
And I know now that things like college education and career paths do NOT determine someone's overall value. There are people with multiple degrees and cash to burn, after all, who don't do anything with their money. And there are others who don't have much, yet still get contribute to their community with their time and put in the effort to help. Now that I’m done with college, I know I would much rather be the latter.
(But if I can be both that would be awesome, too.)
I believe that AUSD students who pursue higher education ought to take advantage of the best opportunities offered, but I wish more of us got together and used our talents to help our hometown. Even though I can't help all of Azusa, I still want to find people and offer my help.
Here is my project:
Depending on my availability, I will volunteer the skills I learned at USC to help a small business owner, AUSD teacher or a student in Azusa for at least one hour or more each week
Things I can help with:
Website management (I cannot code, I just know how to set one up and run it)
Social Media Marketing
Adobe Creative Cloud basics for Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere and Spark. I’m not as experienced in Illustrator but I have designed banners with it before.
College and scholarship essay feedback
Community and professional connections
Tutoring (Strongest in English, current events and history, pretty decent with science except physics and while I passed AP Calculus AB, BC and Stats, I wouldn’t trust me with your child’s math grades)
Tinikling dance (just in case there are people interested in Filipino culture and want to learn)
Anything related to volunteering, journalism, digital media, writing and mentoring
Business owners: Must be someone who owns a business in Azusa or is a resident of Azusa who runs a business. I will not help Multi-level Marketing businesses. (Nothing personal, it's just that ethically MLMs don't sit well with me)
AUSD Teachers: Please contact me if you need a donation to replace pencils, colored pencils, pens or staples. I can't afford much, but I'll try to help when I can.
Also please reach out if you would like me to give input on a college/professional development presentation to your students
If you have students interested in a particular industry, send me any questions they might have and I'll use my network to get answers for them
Parents of students: Please reach out if you would like me to help your child with their writing, reading, history, or college application process
People under 18, I'm happy to help out but please do not contact me without parental/guardian permission
Feel free to look at my LinkedIn. I'm legitimate. I can also point you to former teachers who can confirm that I'm crazy enough to do something like this.
I am NOT looking to get paid for any of the above when I volunteer. I already have a job and things are hard for a lot of people here. But if I can help, I want to help.
If you would like to hire my service on a more regular basis per week, I’m happy to work with Azusa residents/business owners on a rate that is within their budget. Just let me know.
While I might not live in Azusa my whole life, I might as well try to be a good community member now that I'm back.
I ask anyone in Azusa to share this so that it can reach the people I can benefit most in my community, or people who know those people. Thanks for your help!
Please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org