|My name is Carlos Antonio Fajardo and I am currently a senior graduating this year, May 2021. I was born in Los Angeles, CA, and spent the majority of my life growing up here. For high school, I attended Manual Arts Senior High School – College Preparatory Magnet and graduated in 2017. Throughout my time in high school, I was part of various programs and extracurriculars, with the most notable being the JROTC program and the USC Upward Bound program.
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with a minor in Biotechnology. Before applying for college, I wanted to pursue civil engineering, but then I decided to change my interest to biology. While in high school, my mom was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks one’s organs and prevents people from building immunity to infections. After doing my own research, I saw that her condition had no cure and that it can only be controlled through medications. This served as a motivation to me to pursue my current major and minor. Yes, I would’ve made a difference in the world if I would’ve gone the engineering route, but I felt that I would make a more direct impact on the people affected by this disease by pursuing a career in biology.
During my time at USC, I did various activities. In Fall 2018, I joined Latino Students in Medicine (LSM). I first heard of the club through one of my friends and since then I remained a member of the club. I have been both a mentee and a mentor for the club throughout my time in LSM. The reason why I decided to join the club was because I wanted to be in an organization with other Latinx students like me who are pursuing a career in the medical field. Latinx students are very underrepresented in the medical field and this club has provided support and shown me that I am not alone. I have also been a tutor for the Upward Bound program that I was a part of in high school. The Upward Bound program had such a big impact on me that I wanted to give back by being a tutor to the high school students in the program. Finally, I was also a room advisor for the USC Summer Bridge program. Alongside two other room advisors, I planned a series of events for incoming USC freshmen from the NAI (Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative) program and other schools and supervised them to make sure they went to their classes and throughout the various trips planned for them, such as a visit to the Wrigley Center at Catalina Island.
Being a Caldwell scholar has been one of the best things I have been a part of. They have been such a big support to me throughout my USC career and they have been there especially in these difficult times. Both Victor and Karen have been such an amazing support system and have always pushed me to do my best and to always keep my head up and I thank them dearly for always being there for me.
After graduation, I plan to take 2-3 gap years and during that time I will be doing volunteer work and community service, research, and studying for the MCAT. After the gap years, I plan to attend medical school to pursue a specialty in either rheumatology or biotechnology.
An interesting little fact about me is that I started to pick up cooking. I never used to cook before, but ever since my mother’s passing, I started to pick it up. I remember as a kid I used to always be in the kitchen watching her cook and to this day I remember a lot of the things that she used to do in the kitchen and apply them myself. I’m not as good as a cook as she was but I’m getting there. One of my favorite dishes is a ribeye steak with a side of vegetables. I would season the ribeye steak with salt and pepper and a little bit of garlic salt and would cook the steak to a medium-rare. After that, in the same pan, I would sauté some carrots, broccoli, and potatoes and season them with salt and pepper, a little bit of garlic salt, and some Worcestershire sauce. Finally, I would make a spicy bbq sauce to have on the side or drizzle over the steak.