A “never settle” motto and a desire to change the world.

My USC Story: first-year student

Photographed is Jaxon Mullinnix outside in the USC courtyard with a leaf covered wall, and he is smiling, looking into the camera with the never settle attitude!
My USC Story freshman Jaxon Mullinnix, photographed September 25, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Gus Ruelas)

USC freshman Jaxon Mullinnix grew up in Lone Tree, Iowa, a town of less than 1,400 people, and spent his entire school career from prekindergarten to high school graduation with the same 30-student class. Jaxon is passionate about solving food insecurity and breaking down the barriers to a nutritious life for all. Jaxon was a 2018 World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan Intern at EARTH University in Costa Rica where he conducted research on educational methodology. Later, he was one of 161 American high school students to be selected as a United States Presidential Scholar, one of the highest honors the nation can bestow upon a graduating senior. The political science major impressed admissions officers with an essay about his desire to change the world. 

Why did you choose USC?

USC encourages students to take an interdisciplinary approach to their education which is something that caught my attention right off the bat. I knew that I’d be pushed by my advisors and professors to seek understanding of the world around me in a way that simply cannot be done with a single concentration. The study abroad opportunities, even the domestic experiences offered, also piqued my interest.

What did you do when you first found out you got into USC?

For most, the college admissions process is stressful, and for me, it was no different. However, once I found out I’d been accepted to USC, I was finally able to take a breath. In fact, I took several breaths to make up for the months prior which left me tired and dull. I was thrilled– relieved. Perhaps it was the potency of the new oxygen entering my lungs, but I knew I was one step closer to knowing where I belong.

What are you most excited to learn/do/experience while at USC?

I’m excited to contend with ideas that are unlike my own and broaden my perspective. A match of mental sparring always breathes a little life into me. I am fascinated with ideas and can’t wait to be immersed in a culture with people who are passionate about learning and intellectual exploration.

What is one thing you brought/will bring with you to USC that means the most to you?

On a family vacation in 2014, I walked right up to one of those shanty stands on a Florida pier, handed an old man fifteen dollars, and he began etching the phrase “never settle” onto a leather band. As cliché as this phrase may be, it meant a lot to me when I was thirteen and that holds today. I wasn’t always one to reach for the stars growing up, but this band represents the time where I decided that my life must mean something, and I must cleanse myself of complacency to make that so. The “never settle” philosophy has driven me to become a better Christian, son, brother, student, and leader. I’ll bring this band to USC and hope it’ll serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how far I have left to go.

What do you think/hope you’ll be like four years from now?

After USC, I hope I can find an environment that allows me to fully spread my wings, flex my mental muscles, and push the limits of my creativity. I hope that I’ll use my skill set and qualities by working to develop solutions to the technical and intellectual problems of the 21st century.

Regardless, I sincerely hope I’ll be honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses so I can find a career that benefits others and makes me happy.

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