Last Saturday, I attended a USC performance of Spring Awakening, a story of teenage angst amidst the changing culture of 1890’s Germany. At around 8 pm, my friend Jake and I crowded into a small, on-campus theatre right across from my physics lab and watched three of our good friends take the stage. The first, Elizabeth Weir, played a girl who falls in love with the play’s handsome protagonist, much to the disgust of her parents and society. The second, Burt Chaikin, acted as the father of a friend of Elizabeth’s. Angered by his son’s failure of his final exams, Burt beats and scolds his son, who later commits suicide in distress. At his own son’s funeral, Burt’s acting talent emerged when he broke down in sorrow on the stage. My third friend, Connor, portrays a homosexual student trying to find his identity. Through his flamboyant behavior, Connor provides the play’s comedic relief while still addressing the shifting attitude toward homosexuality at the turn of the 20th century. Overall, Elizabeth, Burt, and Connor all added something special to the performance that reflected their personal talents.
I particularly enjoyed Spring Awakening because I personally knew the actors and loved seeing their real personalities mesh with their stage personalities. Furthermore, Spring Awakening represented the diversity of my friends and USC students. Unlike Burt and Connor, Elizabeth is a theatre major. Elizabeth and I met through a mutual friend and have stayed friends ever since, often running into each other at USC social events. Burt studies in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts as a critical studies major. Burt and I met during the first week of our freshman year and have stayed friends ever since. Currently, Burt and I live in the same apartment, and we have made it a tradition to go see new movies together on their opening nights. A screenwriting major, Connor is a new member of my fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu. Through the new member process, I have gained an appreciation for Connor’s creativity and his career goal to write small but meaningful films directed toward particular audiences.
Elizabeth, Burt, and Connor partially explain why I really love USC. While a top-notch engineering institution, SC provides me with the academic diversity to keep life interesting. I do not feel that my academic life centers around physics and math. Physics and math are just an important part of an even larger engineering education, which I can enrich by exploring the arts at USC. From Spring Awakening to my ballroom dancing class, I have discovered how to be an engineer and still experience everything academic USC has to offer. That is the beauty of USC. I can pursue my dream of being an astronautical engineer and still have great friendships with non-engineers, such as Elizabeth, Burt, and Connor.