The journey to get to college is different for every freshman. Maria Camasmie, a freshman at the University of Southern California, had to overcome the struggles of living in a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian immigrant family to fulfill her dream of going to a great university.

“I did not know about a lot of colleges because my parents did not go to college in America,”  Maria explained.

Lack of information did not discourage her, however. Maria said spent her high school years in Orlando, Florida participating in a plethora of activities. Maria led her class as student body president and dedicated her weekends to community service.

Maria spent hours building houses for the organization Habitat for Humanities. She said she worked on four houses total in her high school career.

Exceptional academics, test scores, and extracurriculars put Maria in the ideal position: she said was accepted to schools including UC Berkeley, Harvard, and of course, USC.

Now as she transitions into her freshman year, she said she hopes to meet students who have a similar background as herself.

“I identify with the Latinos and Hispanics on campus because a lot have the immigrant story of being the first or second generation college student,” Maria said.

Her excitement is shown through the assortment of neon-colored club posters plastered on her corkboard inside of her dorm at the Birnkrant Residential College.

Birnkrant, the honors dorm on campus, houses the freshman merit scholarship recipients each year. Maria lives on the all girls floor inside of a dorm filled with bright decorations, souvenirs and memories, and simple teal and pink accent decor.

Outside of her experience within the honors community, Maria said she hopes to get involved in organizations that bring together students of both Hispanic and Latino backgrounds.

“The Hispanic professional engineers is something that I am excited about,” she said.

Many students speak of missing life back home their freshman year. With her family on the other side of the country, Maria hopes to bring a small, yet important piece of home back with her to USC next year–her brother.

“He better apply to USC, I wanna see him. that would be so fun,” Maria said with a proud big sister smile.

Now that she has gone through the college process successfully, she said her family is more confident that her younger brother can do the same.

“It was really the college application that threw us off because it is so different in Brazil. They learned with me the hard way and now my brother will not be stressed out.”

Maria said her first few weeks have been busy with her engineering classes. A few include intro to mechanical and aerospace engineering, engineering freshman academy material science, and Calculus II.

With a tough semester ahead of her, Maria said that she is optimistic about her future success and is thankful she has been placed in one of her dream universities.