Helenes Burrito - An Alumna Reflection
Disclaimer: If you don’t like burritos, this will be hard to digest. Here’s my wrap about my time in Helenes!
USC Helenes is like the loaded Chipotle Burrito with salty chips and extra Guac you need on your most packed class day at 5pm with a 10-minute window to get from one end of the campus to the other. I mean the energy and love that you get to tap into when you are part of the family revitalizes who you are and reshapes the weather of your own day.
I remember back at USC, I felt like I was juggling spinning plates of challenging classes, extracurriculars, and personal things, and then on top of that learning how to do backflips to prove to employers who I was applying to that “yes, I can be your special snowflake. Please hire me.” There were definitely some days where I wanted to be hugged like a warm burrito on a packed day. For me, sometimes it was hard to ask for help or look at my friend and say, “hey I’m going through some things right now and I’m tired.” In Helenes, I never had to ask or explain myself. I was always greeted with a warm smile and a genuine hug, and then 5 minutes after we part, a text saying “Hey, you can talk to me if you need. I’m here.” All that just changed the weather of my day and brought up the sun for me. What I love about Helenes is that you can find one of us in every corner of campus just because of our eclectic involvements and interests. It didn’t matter where I went, I’d always run into a friend in Helenes giving me their radiating energy when I needed it most. I realized that Helenes is a support system you didn’t know you need until you do, and the best part is that it is there waiting for you.
The girls in Helenes all have different flairs and passions. I mean you can sit down with someone and pick their brain about one of their passions and outlooks and sit on the edge of your seat the whole conversation. The best part is that they invite you to participate and learn something new. Amelia asked me to teach her basic mountaineering so we went, Sara Lev taught me more about global health on a bus in Nicaragua, Catherine gave me a different perspective of medicine in Doheney/Leavey library that will took me to the next level man, Elizabeth explained to me a very detailed and riveting perspective about numbers and data outside of Ralphs with pumpkins in our hands, Ashley taught me more about car engines when she picked me up at LAX, whenever I run into Taleen on campus we do this thing where we exchange a song whenever we see each other, now I listen to Saint Motel a lot, Mehr and I learned how to make hummus together in my kitchen, Sarah George also keeps a baseball and glove in her closet and I felt extremely understood for a hot second, Uma gave me a WILD perspective on deep life topics that whenever I have a quality chance I continually pick her brain about, Dani literally gives Martha Stewart a run for her money when she’s near ANY TYPE of baking equipment– I mean we can literally make a Lynda.com tab for Helenes here. Each girl in Helenes can spice up a moment for you – they are that extra guac that brings flavor, man.
Add Ons: $1.30 Salty Chips
Helenes extends across USC and beyond. I was first introduced to Helenes love when I was a Sophomore in SC Outfitters because a Helene was the president at the time (the ph.D Madi Swayne) – also within SC Outfitters, I met yung Mercy when she signed up for my rock climbing trip! And crazy enough, two years later, we re-met again, and she encouraged me to sign up for Helenes. I shared a room with Evelyn and Sara Lev as we took turns tucking each other into the bed bug nets in Nicaragua. Or when Hailey Facetimed me when I was in Colorado for my final interview and and she told me to get my butt to an H&M or Forever 21 to buy an undershirt because she didn’t want my lack of fashion sense to prevent me from getting the job. I was going to solo backpack Europe for 2 months after graduation, until a Helene studying abroad in Madrid messaged me 4 days before my departure with a 3-week itinerary and asked me if it lined up to the last 3 weeks of my trip. Not knowing if we would get on each others nerves or if we understood each other enough to travel side-by-side each second of the day – we both dove in head deep with ambiguous plans, a terrible itch for a good time and had to blindly trust each other on moments of uncertainty (like when I told her I was proficient at driving a Vespa and she could trust me for the next 24 hours). I personally came out of it with timeless stories, pockets of unforgettable global moments with her, and extremely broke (You all know who I’m referring to tho).
Helenes just fills you up with knowledge, with energy, with smiles, with love, with candy, with food, with ice cream, and a solid “Yeah, you did!” No matter what, Helenes always has a way to just make me feel full – in the best way possible.
And when you put all of that together – you get an energy that fills any void in you or encourages you to be more of you. You get a love that is unconditional regardless of your mistakes in the past or failures in the future because at the end of the day, we are all supporting each other in all of our own developments. Helenes is an energy that gets you.
And so to answer the question, "How did Helenes change/shape my experience at USC?": It made me a better human filling me with broader perspectives of life, giving me new passions to dig my feet in, sanding out my rough edges, and giving me a space at USC to be more of me.
That’s what USC Helenes meant to me in college. And even states away, I still feel lucky enough to be able to tap into the Koolaid and walk out of work almost every night having my phone vibrate with Alexa Huerta’s name popping up on my screen, making it seem like we are only just 2 blocks away again, wanting to let me know that she’s hungry and to call the Uber to meet her our local Himalayan spot.