40-something single father, Army vet and lifelong USC fan earns bachelor’s degree

Jaime Gomez

Jaime Gomez was enjoying a comfortable life with two young children a few years ago, making a six-figure salary as a lead sales specialist for Frito-Lay Inc., when he could no longer ignore the nagging voice inside of him.

Once a high-performing student at South Gate High School in his hometown of South Gate, Calif., he loved history class and always dreamed about teaching it. But he went straight into the military after high school for six years and then started his career at Frito-Lay.

After 16 years there, Gomez took a leap of faith and decided to live off his savings to earn his college degree.

He quit his job in 2019 and a year later entered Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif., becoming a first-generation college student. In fall 2022, he transferred to the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Now, Gomez, 43, is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history with honors. “I thought I would be elated, but it feels bittersweet,” he says. “USC has always been my dream school. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t following USC football, basketball, and wearing USC clothing and gear.”

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