Interview with Merced Union District Student, Oscar Perez, on Annenberg’s High School Programs

The USC Annenberg School has organized and launched several meaningful high school programs meant to introduce lower-income and disadvantaged students within the greater Los Angeles area to the broad media landscape, an in-depth college experience, and professionals from diverse industries and backgrounds who communicate and convey their expertise and experiences. Everything from exploring various careers in media such as digital storytelling and on-camera broadcasting to developing soft skills, refining presentation capabilities, and improving methods of networking, these students receive a jam-packed and valuable blueprint for entering college, the workforce and excelling in any pursuit or goals they may have.  

With the Third Space Youth Institute looming in the near future, it’s critical to highlight and feature high school students’ experiences within these immersive high school programs at USC Annenberg.

Earlier this year, 12 students and two teachers from the Merced Union High School District immersed themselves in a customized program of digital storytelling, video production and soft skills development.  I had the wonderful opportunity to connect with and interview Oscar Perez, a recent Merced Union High graduate and former participant in a USC Annenberg high school program.

What new opportunities and ideas did your experience and time at Annenberg illuminate and stimulate in your mind that you potentially may want to pursue going forward?

“I got to experience being a journalist for a week and that was amazing and stressful, but the good kind of stressful. I never really thought of or considered studying journalism but I swear something about that amazing campus makes you hungry for it. Through the experience, it has made me want to combine my passion for film and my newfound appreciation for journalism.”

What’s one skill the program emphasized that stuck with you which you’ve applied to your lifestyle/work ever since the program?

“The biggest thing that stood out to me was how important it is to have a crazy work ethic and to learn from ‘mistakes’ and ‘errors’. It’s crucial not to see that error as failure, but instead as a new lesson to move on to success.

What was your favorite activity in the program?

“By far, the final project of the program was my favorite. Being paired and grouped with other students from different schools in the district was a thrilling and very collaborative experience. As complete strangers working towards completing one common goal, it was fascinating to create the great video we did for the final presentation. It was nothing short of memorable because of the learning curve the program put us through.”

Summarize Annenberg in one word from your short lived experience there and why?

“The word I’d use to summarize Annenberg is ‘motivation’. The entire time I was there, I felt like I was being teased for an entire week at my absolute dream school. Being there only made me want to strive to work harder towards being a Trojan and maximize the opportunities available to Trojans”.