Never having been to Los Angeles before, I was excited to see the city and visit the USC campus for the Point Foundation Community College Transfer Symposium. Because of a last-minute itinerary change, I was dropped off only a few hours before our tour, so I unpacked, relaxed, and took in the unprecedentedly best view of the house: facing the USC Campus’ medieval inspired architectural magnificence.
While heading down to the lobby to meet my fellow scholarship recipients, I was overcome with curiosity. Who were the 24 other queer folk who received the scholarship alongside me? Every community is an amalgamation of a variety of humans, and I was excited to get to know my peers. I noticed how beautiful and well-spoken everyone was, as well as the range of diverse backgrounds.
In only the first hour of our tour, any perceivable discomfort melted away. Immediately after introducing myself to the group, while we were walking to the next stop, there was a tap on my shoulder. “Did you say you were going to Technische Universität in Berlin?” inquired a tall red headed man of Germanic descent. I had mentioned my interest in their master’s program during my introduction and he somehow picked up this tidbit over the extra loud music from the DJ celebrating move in week.
Throughout the afternoon, the outgoing and friendly nature of our group was extraordinary! Even before the end of the tour, a WhatsApp chat group had been formed. Several of us had planned a jacuzzi nightcap. Busy schedule notwithstanding, I was able to steal away and put in a skate session at World On Wheels, the renowned local skating haven, home to talented rhythm and jam skaters. I shyly skated amongst these great artists for a few hours and left feeling humbled to skate with these greats.
Friday graced us with an education series, which focused on the skills relevant to the lifecycle of a student and their career: admissions, resumes, and interviews. Being an older student, some of the information was not new, but I took away a wealth of inspirational content; the skills I learned increased my aptitude for how I navigate academia and beyond.
My favorite part of the day was realizing that my current working resume mirrored the format in Susan Ferris’ example. Bonus points? The entire day was made thoroughly engaging by several other talented speakers, including Point Board of Directors Co-Vice Chair Peter Lichtenthal, Mamie Costentino from Collegewise, and a number of Point alumni and staff.
In the evening, half of us met up and dined at a local sushi restaurant. Little did we know a single bottle of Honest Tea would change us from a group of scholars into a tight knit community. The bottle, used to play a truth-or-dare variant of “spin the bottle”, became the symbol of our community chat. We spilled the tea on every awkward, uplifting, wholesome, dark, and intimate experience we had; what we shared bonded us in togetherness.
Saturday came quickly, and I was ready for coffee and another round of training. After traveling through the magnificent Trojan Family Room (what a ceiling!), we started the training with a set of financial education workshops, then shifted themes onto personal statements. Hearing other students’ narratives and hearing them explore their dynamic writing styles became an enthrallingly immersive bout of storytelling. Previously, I found it difficult to write these types of statements, so I was excited to receive feedback from our mentors.
We then spent time with a panel of USC students who were Point Scholars and former Community College Scholarship recipients. Their knowledge about queerly navigating academia came from a myriad of unique perspectives. Having various success in navigating queer spaces and academia all my life, I listened intently as the panel explored a number of familiar struggles. Listening to someone’s reality mirror aspects of my own experience made my world feel a little less isolated.
That evening we had a fancy-dress dinner in which we sat with donors, speakers, and Point Scholars. At my table were individuals whose past had shared some of the same difficulties as mine! I was shocked at the similarities. Later on, every single one of us sported ear to ear joyful smiles as we were presented with a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ for receiving the scholarship. The sense of achievement we all felt in that moment shone so very bright. The energy of the stage that evening buzzed with pride.
Unfortunately, I had an early flight out of Los Angeles, therefore I was unable to convene with my fellow scholarship recipients prior to the return flight, but the Lyft to LAX with another scholar yielded one final intimate conversation – a testament to just how connected we all had become in that short weekend.
When I prepared to spend 3 days at the Point Foundation Community College Transfer Symposium, little did I realize it would make such an impact on my life. I did not know my anxiety would grow spontaneously into elation. I did not dream of making the sort of connections that would last beyond my short visit to LA.
Maddie is currently attending school in Portland, OR, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. Maddie hopes to work in the agricultural technology field until she can start her own company. Read more about our community college students here.