Ashley Melendres (she/her)

Major(s): Classical Guitar Performance, Neuroscience with a pre-med track

Class of 2025

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

USC Organizations: USC Thornton Student Council, USC Chess Club – Vice President, Mariachi los Troyanos de USC – Treasurer, Brain and Creativity Institute – Research Assistant, Thornton Community Engagement Program

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is the USC Thornton quad. I like it because there’s a lot of nature and I can sit outside in the sun and study or practice.

What is your go-to place for a delicious snack/meal on or around campus?

My go-to restaurant near campus is California Hot Chicken!

What is your favorite thing about Los Angeles?

My favorite thing about Los Angeles is how large and diverse it is. There is so much to do and explore. I love being able to explore downtown LA then take a bus to various hiking trails and the beach!

What advice would you share with students applying to music schools right now?

Obviously, the first thing I’d say is practice, practice, practice! I would also recommend reaching out to the teacher you’d be studying with as well as get in touch with a current student. My best advice is to look at the school as a whole, not just the music school. Is the school in a location you like? What attitude do the current students seem to have? What are things you could see yourself doing at the school? Do you think you’d be happy studying at that school? These are all very important questions for you to answer.

Why did you choose USC Thornton?

I chose USC Thornton for a few reasons. Firstly, it is one of a few schools in the country where I could feasibly double major in STEM and Classical Guitar. The school’s recent redesign to specifically allow for double majors has made it very easy for me to fulfill all the requirements. I also have three advisors that work with me one-on-one to make course plans and figure out what all needs to get done to accomplish my goals. The biggest reason Thornton stood out to me, however, is its environment. This school focuses on collaboration, not competition. When I was applying to college, other schools would say “our students compete against each other as it fosters an environment where everyone pushes themselves” during information sessions. To me, that meant “our students are more focused on being better than each other than they are on being friends; this is a stressful place to study”. At Thornton, the emphasis is on forming friendships with your peers, not on being a better musician than them. Overall, Thornton is a wonderful, supportive school for any musician, and I am happy I chose it.