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Crossing the Stage After A Pandemic: JCI’s Graduating Class

Updated: May 26, 2021

JCI is beyond proud to spotlight three of our newly-laureled associates. Our graduates powered through a range of unprecedented challenges, proving their resilience and adaptability. From natural disasters to school closures, Daviona, Mariana, and Becca made lemonade from life’s lemons, and ultimately it paid off. Learn about their plans for the future and join us in celebrating their accomplishments through the interview series below:

Daviona Moore

Occidental College, May 2021

BA in Kinesiology with a focus in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies

1. How did you decide on your area of study?

Once I learned about the field of kinesiology, it immediately reeled me in. The study of the human body’s complex systems appealed to me as its applications extend to every human. We all can benefit from exploring nutrition and health practices in greater detail, especially to groups with a higher risk of chronic diseases such as communities of color, shift workers, and those of lower socioeconomic status. This crucial intersection led me to incorporate the study of varying systems of power into my work, allowing me to develop a more comprehensive understanding of health and how to approach the topic in different communities.

2. What's your favorite experience from your degree program/undergrad?

My absolute favorite experiences were the study sessions with fellow kinesiology students: hours of handling anatomical models, concocting comedic mnemonics together, and overall geeking out over the admirable nature of the human body. Usually studying health and wellness is plagued with glossing over textbook chapters for hours, so the dynamic, high-energy study sessions made the college experience that much more exciting over the years!

3. Any advice for the incoming class of 2025?

I wish the Class of 2025 the best in their academic aspirations! My advice for the incoming class is to make at least one friend in each class, especially if you’re an introvert, avoid all-nighters when possible, and please set aside at least one evening a week to enjoy yourself! Whether it’s with video games, going out with friends, or binging a new show, taking time to slow down is extremely important for work-life balance.

4. What are your next steps?

In line with my knack for mentorship, I will be moving on to obtain a Master’s in Education from Johns Hopkins University while completing a teaching residency with Urban Teachers. I’ll be teaching scholars of underserved communities in addition to fostering social-emotional learning in the classroom to best prepare them for higher education.

Mariana Garcia Medina

University of Southern California, May 2021

Masters in Public Policy

1. How did you decide on your area of study?

As a very curious child, I asked a lot of questions and quickly realized there were a lot of things that did not seem fair to me or made sense, especially within our legal system and policies. I’ve always wanted to make a change and create a positive impact for marginalized communities. Advocacy through policy is crucial to make a sustainable impact. I wanted to become a better and more prepared advocate and decided a Masters in Public Policy would sharpen my analytical skills and allow me to gain more knowledge and experience in policy.

2. What's your favorite experience from your degree program/undergrad?

The relationships built with fellow Price students who were passionate about the same issues I was. In my graduate degree, I built a strong community with fellow cohort members and we always supported each other. There were many times where we were struggling with the material, projects, and balancing everything. However, we always encouraged each other and helped each other understand the material. Our study power hours and conversations were my favorite experiences during my graduate program.

3. Any USC tradition(s) you miss taking part in?

Unfortunately, I was only on campus for nine months and missed many! I did not attend a USC Football game as a student and that is my biggest regret. I attended the tailgates on campus prior to the games which were a lot of fun. However, I had planned to attend an actual game my second year. With the pandemic, that was not possible *sad face*.

4. What are your next steps?

I look forward to applying the skills and knowledge I attained with my Masters in Public Policy degree in my next career role. But most importantly, I am excited to dedicate my career and myself to creating positive social change for marginalized communities through public policy, advocacy, and storytelling.

Becca Zhu

University of Southern California, December 2020

BA Communication, BA Linguistics

1. How did you decide on your areas of study?

I grew up attending an international school in China, so I was constantly exposed to people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. This sparked my passion for learning new languages and eventually led me to study intercultural communication here at USC.

2. What's your favorite experience from your degree program?

I will always be grateful for the Annenberg Speaker Series bringing diverse voices and discussion onto campus. From conversations on modern public diplomacy to the importance of representation in Hollywood, these engaging events enriched my coursework.

3. Any USC tradition(s) you miss taking part in?

Attending football games with friends and singing the USC Fight Song in the Coliseum!

4. What are your next steps?

Over the summer, I will be managing social media content for This Is Our Shot, a grassroots movement combating COVID vaccine hesitancy while working as an Account Coordinator at JCI. In the fall, I will return to USC to pursue a Masters in Public Administration with a focus on social innovation.


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