Graduation letters: Aimee Carrillo Rowe


Brandon Sarmiento

Illustration by Brandon Sarmiento

Aimee Carrillo Rowe

Aimee Carrillo Rowe, Ph.D., is the chair of the department of communication studies at the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication. You can learn more about her here.

Letter to my younger self

Dear Aimee,

I don’t remember much of your graduation ceremony. I think you were probably so frightened about the future, you were checked out.

I do remember the weeks and months before.

I remember the way your hairs on the back of your neck would bristle every time someone said, “What will you do next?” Friends and family asked innocently enough, but those words would propel you into an abyss of uncertainty. You were a communication studies major. You thought you wanted to be a reporter like dad’s favorite NPR personality, Sylvia Poggioli. But your internship was a disaster, and you had no real leads.

So, you decided to stay in school. You ended up getting a master’s degree, which led to a Ph.D., which led to – well, the best life ever. I am so happy to be a CSUN professor and looking back, I see that all your anxiety was really also anticipation of a yet-to-be-known future.

I would tell you to lean into the unknown, to trust all that you had learned to carry you somewhere good. I would tell you that beauty emerges from the void. All you have to do is take the next right step.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s to never ask a graduate what’s next. If they want to tell me, they can. But if they don’t, that just means they don’t yet know that their future is already rising up to meet them.

Love, Aimee