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Senior Spotlight: Michel Faliski

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy? What were you looking for in an undergraduate program?

My journey to the Academy was quite interesting because I found out about the program around the same time I started discovering the creative side of myself in photography and design. I was mostly playing sports and thought that was what defined me for a while, but then I met an amazing teacher, Gary Kulak, who believed in a lot more for my future than what I was imagining. With his guidance, I realized I was looking for a program that was doing something unique. I knew I wanted to change the world for the better and I wanted to surround myself with people that had that same mindset. I found the program pretty last minute, but I read about it more and visited USC literally one week before the application was due. I remember being in the information session with a bunch of high school sophomores when I was a senior and Jessica Vernon (love her) looked at me and said, "You're a senior? Well, you better get to work! Your application is due in a week." I loved that.

How have you evolved over the past four years?

The amazing thing about the Academy is that you are truly surrounded by teachers and students that believe in you and are constantly inspiring you. I have evolved in terms of my interests and goals, but I think more importantly the teachers, opportunities and students have helped me evolve into a more empathetic individual. It is one thing to research a problem someone else is having, but it's an even more powerful thing to feel connected to it enough and feel like you want to do everything you can to help somebody.

Describe an Academy moment that you’ll never forget.

Oh my goodness there are so many... definitely one of my favorites was the Academy trip to Silicon Valley that we took. We were a family and I'll never forget those funny nights together. That was a really awesome opportunity. Also, the ceremony for the new building was amazing. We were so lucky to be there for that!

What advice would you give to a freshman?

Focus on learning, not your GPA. The more time you take to learn something for no other purpose than for the love of learning, the more connections and valuable knowledge you will be able to bring into all of your work.

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?

I feel like my cohort knows me a little too well at this point (love you guys) so this is a hard one. Hmmm... I think a lot of people think I am a very social person who likes to be around people a lot, but honestly, I really value alone time as well and I think that’s something hard to get in college.

What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?

Mom and dad if you're reading this, I love you guys more than anything! I think what really helped me growing up with the guidance of my parents was that they always understood and appreciated the value of an education. I'm really grateful to have had that sense of gratitude going into USC, it always kept me pushing myself and staying positive because I am so lucky to have had this experience.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?

"When the noise is gone, and you're left with you, that's when you'll hear what you're meant to do." - Beats by Dre, Above the Noise Campaign

What goals do you have post-graduation?

To always be working toward a goal, and enjoying the small steps to get there. To love what I do and to be able to give back and help somebody as much as the community at Iovine and Young helped me.

Describe a passion project you’re currently working on and how you came up with the idea for it?

I am obsessed with music videos and everything that comes with them. I spend way too much time on YouTube so to put that time to better use, I am working on a Creatives in the Music Industry panel for USC students with some friends on USC Concerts Committee. I’m trying to bring together some directors, producers, designers, colorists and animators. It's so fun!!

Fun Facts

What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
Headphones always - never leave the house without them; phone and computer charger; notebook and pen; Hydroflask; Aquaphor. The key items in life.

Favorite app or website?
YouTube and Notion are my true loves.

Favorite way to de-stress?
Taking a drive and blasting music. <3

Guilty pleasure?
Dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's all the way!!

Thanks, Michel!