Meet USD's Mermaid and Campus Celeb: Carissa Gray!

Wouldn’t it just be amazing if USD had its own little mermaid? I mean, how hip happening does that sound? An actual mermaid! That would sure put our lovely university on the map! Well, what if I told you that USD did indeed have its own mermaid! What if I told you that when she’s not in the water she’s involved on campus, walking around campus, ready to share her smiley face, and be a part of this world? Her name is Carissa Gray and she, ladies and gents, is this week’s Campus Celebrity! Meet Carissa!


Name: Carissa Gray

Year / Major: Junior, Marketing Major

Hometown: Red Bank, NJ

HC: How do you feel about being this week’s Campus Celebrity?

CG: I feel honored and excited to share a little bit about myself and why I LOVE USD. But if you ask me, I would nominate Vanessa Hernandez for campus celeb & cutie every week if that was an option.

HC: What organizations are you involved with on campus?

CG: So some call me a frat star. I love being a part of the business fraternity here on campus, Alpha Kappa Psi. [She is the VP of Marketing for Alpha Kappa Psi] And frat stars ball hard, which explains why I also participate in as many sports as I can on campus. I play as many intramural sports as I can fit into my schedule, ref some of them as well, and over my years here at USD, I spent some time diving for the swim team and practicing with the Women’s Basketball team.

HC: I’ve heard people call you a mermaid? Where does that stem from?

CG: Mermaid definitely stems from my absolute obsessive love and appreciation for the ocean. Growing up in New Jersey, my mermaid tail was born when my family would spend entire summers at the beach on the jersey shore (no not that jersey shore) and I never wanted to leave the water unless I was promised ice cream on the way home. Then, I made the decision to follow my mermaid dreams and come out to California, where most people since freshman year have thought I live at the beach because I spend so much of my time there. I even resorted to mastering the public transportation here just so I could get my ocean fix when I needed it.

HC: What is one important lesson that you’ve learned since you’ve been at USD, and how has it shaped you as a person?

CG: Live life outside of your comfort zone in order to find your comfort zone. Try everything and anything that life has to offer to give you that many more chances to find what makes you happy. USD has taught me to try new things, and get involved in various groups, clubs, friend circles, sports, you name it. Sometimes it won’t work out the way you planned, but hey, now you know one more thing about yourself and the journey to those discoveries are what life is all about.

HC: What’s a piece of advice you would give members of the younger class about school, life, and trying to get “it right”?

CG: You can’t necessarily get “it right.” Because there is no one “right” way to do school or life for that matter. It is important to accept that your life, your experiences are just that - unique to YOU. My advice is to branch out, try something new and never forget to take the time appreciate where you are and how lucky you are. USD is such an amazing place with so much to offer and it only upsets me when I see people who don’t take advantage of it. So to my youngins - get out and EXPLORE! Watch as many sunsets as you can, get down to the beach or the mountains or the dessert, find people who compliment you and make you a better person (there are so many here at USD!), and find things that make you happy and run with them. Always remember to take a step back to realize how awesome life is and that the opportunities that USD provides us with are endless and yours for the taking.

HC: On your free time, what do you do for fun in San Diego?

CG: Free time- I love surfing, paddle boarding, swimming, yoga, sports, art, biking to Trader Joe’s with the roomies, hiking at Torrey Pines, hanging out with my mermaid roommates, and eating lots and lots of peanut butter/cookie butter.

HC: What is Carissa passionate about?

CG: Creation. I am so passionate about art and how it is present in our lives in so many ways. What we wear, the music we listen to, the food we make, the sports we play, the things we read, etc. It is all art, all a beautiful form of creation and raw talent in its own way. I have a particular appreciation for self-expression through all of these mediums, but especially for what I can create on canvas or paper. I love to paint and design and I just wish I had more time to devote to that form of art in my life, and hope to incorporate that passion in my career.

HC: What’s your favorite thing about USD?

CG: My favorite thing about USD, aside from it proximity to the ocean, is its people! As somewhat of an introvert, people scare me sometimes, but I have been able to meet some of the most amazing, well-rounded, down to earth, eclectic and unique individuals. Everyone is a character and they embrace the things that make them quirky and fun and therefore fun to get to know. USD is filled with such a diverse body of students and the people you meet here all have such a cool, individualized story.

HC: What are you looking forward to, right now?

CG: SAS! I don’t know if anyone could be more excited than I am to spend four months on a ship, out at sea, in such a small, enclosed place with hundreds of people I have never met before. But I am SO SO excited! I cannot even begin to tell you. I am about to sail around the world in less than two months and it will be the trip, experience, and voyage of a lifetime! I will get to explore Asia, India, Africa, a little bit of Europe and so many places in between!

HC: Fun question: if you had the chance to spend two hours with anyone (from the past, present, famous, or not), who would you chose?

CG: If I could spend two hours with anyone, it would probably be Felicity Palmateer, pro surfer and artist. I would love to just sit and chat with her about her passions and how she has made a career out of those passions. She is such an amazing artist and she was just named the first women to surf the biggest wave as a female in history. Talk about courage! She is an incredible role model for female athletes and having the chance to spend some time with someone so passionate and talented would be an remarkable opportunity.

Well, there you have it! If you see USD’s mermaid, whether it be in the water or walking around campus, I encourage you to give her a little hello! She’s wonderfully amazing and you won’t regret it! Thanks for the interview, Carissa! What a gem! Stay lovely USD!