“USC isn’t just in the heart of LA; it is the heart of LA.”

Michael Mikail.  (Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Michael Mikail. (Photo/Gus Ruelas)


When Michael Mikail started as a spring admit in January, he already had deep ties to the USC community. His parents – immigrants from Eritrea in East Africa – own a store in the neighborhood, so Mikail “was infatuated with the idea of being a Trojan from a young age.”

His parents’ tireless commitment to betterment, including earning three degrees amid numerous adversities, inspires Mikail, a budding community organizer: “The story of my parents is inextricably linked to my own personal aspirations; to me, anything short of history-making is mediocrity.”

He’s majoring in philosophy, politics, and law at USC, and has already landed an internship with Senator Kamala Harris.

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

I checked the mail as soon as I got home that day, didn’t see the letter/package, but I still had kind of a good feeling about it, so I went to check if it was left outside the front door. It wasn’t. I walked inside pretty disheartened, and then I saw the package on our kitchen table and freaked out. I was so excited, I told my whole family and started envisioning my future as a Trojan. Then I went to a dentist appointment.

What did you do fall semester?

Fall semester I attended my local community college and was able to intern at the Democratic Party of Orange County and also at World Relief, a non-profit Immigration Legal Services center.

Why did you want to be a Trojan? What does USC mean to you?

USC isn’t just in the heart of LA; it is the heart of LA. Knowing this, I’m super excited about all the opportunities I know I will be afforded to get involved in organizing, policy, and so many other areas/industries.

What piece of advice were you given about starting college that you’ll follow?

Getting Involved! I was a part of so many organizations in high school, and those really added to my experience, so I hope to continue getting involved at USC.

What experience in your life most shaped who you are now?

Being first-gen has shaped and continues to shape me the most. My parents, like so many immigrants, surpassed incredible obstacles and made it to the US, where they worked unbelievably hard to give their family and kids a better life.