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Senior Spotlight: Beatriz Barros Silva

Hailing from Brazil, senior Beatriz Barros Silva has pursued her passions at IYA with ambition and perseverance. Whether it’s collaborating on projects for iconic brands like Mattel, or simply, learning more about herself in quietude, Silva is never one to back down from an opportunity to grow.

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy?
What were you looking for in an undergraduate program? Since fifth grade to my senior year in high school, I was involved in a creative STEAM program called ​Destination Imagination​. ​For me, it was basically a boot camp for my experience at the Academy. After so many years in that program, I knew I wanted to be in a creative industry, but the academic paths for that in Brazil are somewhat limited. I grew up surrounded by the advertising world, but studying just that also seemed too limiting. I decided to study communications, and my dad (oi pai!!!) said he would only allow me to go abroad for school if I got into the best place for that. That's how I found out about USC.

I spent about a year getting everything ready for my Annenberg application and then, nine days before it was due, I found out about the Academy. I had never seen a program that felt so fitting, and so similar to the boot camp I had been a part of for nearly a decade. I asked my counselor what I should do since I had everything ready for my other app. I ended up changing everything in nine days. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

How have you evolved over the past four years?
I have evolved so much! I was very insecure as a freshman and didn't really know where I fit in or what I was good at. I was afraid to "own" my background because it was so different from everyone else's. I had also just moved from Brazil, so I was a totally different person in regards to independence and maturity. I feel like now I have a much better grasp of who I am, and am a lot braver to pursue my passions and express my thoughts. I am eager to throw myself at new challenges and opportunities and wear all that I am loud and proud.

Describe an IYA moment that you’ll never forget.
Presenting our Hot Wheels-branded TV show concept to the Mattel executives in my junior year. My team went the unconventional route by proposing a TV show rather than a physical product. I had come up with a lot of cool ideas about the plot and media integrations, so it was pretty awesome to see the executives react positively to a "risky" approach we took.

What advice would you give to a freshman?
As cliché as it sounds, don't be afraid to be who you are. Your biggest superpower is being yourself and having your skillset. Always ask yourself why you're doing things and if it really aligns with what you truly value, or if you are getting caught up in others' priorities. In college, it's common to meet so many incredible people that we get tempted into trying to be like someone else, but deep down, we know who we are, and the things we vibe with or not. There's a saying that I really like and sums it up quite well: "If you have to force something to fit into it, it's not for you. That goes for shoes, rings, places, and relationships."

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?
I write sometimes – poetry, observations, thoughts, a little bit of everything. They all live in a secret place on the web.

What is the one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?
My dad has this saying that he always repeats when things are hard — "faca na boca." In literal Portuguese translation it means "knife on the mouth" which sounds a little aggressive, but its underlying meaning is to just keep going and keep fighting even when difficulties arise...very similar to "fight on" :).

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?
There are so many! I have a journal in which I only write my life mottos. I guess my most iconic one, the one that I used in my USC application is from this 1970s ​song ​by Novos Baianos: "By the natural law of encounters, I leave and receive a bit." To me, this quote is the reminder that every human interaction is an exchange, and that there is always something to learn and teach. At the end of the day, we are shaped by how we absorb the interactions we have with others, and what pieces of us we leave with them. It reminds me to always show up as my best self and have humility — sometimes you can learn just as much with a CEO as with an Uber driver. It also helps in my view of human-centered design and hearing user stories to translate them into specific insights. Another quote I really like is "​The Man in the Arena​," by Theodore Roosevelt.

What goals do you have post-graduation?
I want to stay in the US (hopefully California) for a couple of years and work somewhere that helps me grow while exploring my passions. I want to feel as if work I do is not just a job, but part of a bigger scheme in my learning journey. I want to continue seeing life as this crazy challenge full of opportunities, just like I have done in the Academy for the past four years.

Describe a passion project you’re currently working on and how you came up with the idea?
I'm currently working on creating physical products that help foster mindfulness and control anxiety, probably something small and portable. I had this idea after having Benjamin Houltberg, Director of Research at the USC Performance Science Institute, speak at one of my elective classes.

Fun Facts

What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
My yellow dot-grid planner for tasks and aqua dot-grid notebook for ideas. A couple of black ​Jetstream pens (best for note taking), phone charger, workout clothes, and a hair tie. Also a protein or chocolate bar, depending on my mood.

Favorite app or website?
My favorite app has to be WhatsApp, because it's how I communicate with my family and friends from back home. But other than that, I really like Medium — you can find anything from design stuff to personal growth and news, so I would definitely recommend it if you're looking to do some reading outside of regular outlets.

Favorite class at USC and why?
One that was particularly important to me was Discerning & Making with Professors Matthew Manos and Davina Wolter. The class gave me one of my favorite teams that I've worked with at USC (shout out to Hot Wheels Summer!), and really allowed me to dive deep into two areas that became huge interests for me: education innovation and transmedia storytelling. It also helped me get a better grasp of human-centered design and design strategy, which are now areas that I want to continue pursuing.

Favorite way to de-stress?
Praying, working out, surfing, or being in nature. If I can unite these things and grab an açaí bowl, it's a perfect day for me.

Guilty pleasure?
Brady's Bakery cookies close to USC. Please do yourself a favor and order it when you're feeling down — it will be sure to lighten up your quarantine. :)