USC was not my dream school; in fact, I didn’t have a dream school. At the beginning of the college application season, I was not entirely sold on engineering being my future, let alone biomedical engineering. But as the decisions started arriving in the month of April, I started visiting college campuses and interacting with students who lived there, trying to understand which university/program was the best fit for me. It ended up being USC and here’s why:
1. The Trojan Network – This is one of the key distinguishing factors that separates USC from other universities. It’s something I didn’t truly value until I was a student actively pursuing career opportunities. Career fairs (campus-wide, engineering specific as well as startup), company info sessions, corporate dinners, student-run fellowship programs, and on campus recruiting are some of the perks that all USC students. I was able to leverage all of these spectacular opportunities to secure a summer internship at a company I’ve been dreaming about since my first semester on campus. USC alumni are found in all types of engineering industries and they do keep an eye out for ambitious students who are eager to learn and prove themselves.
2. Financial Aid – USC isn’t a cheap school and that’s no secret. But I believe the scholarship, grant, and work study opportunities are severely underappreciated by those who are looking at the school from the outside in. As a low-income student, USC’s offer made a huge difference in my final decision to attend this school. Whether it be need-based scholarships, merit-based scholarships, or working on campus, there are numerous ways someone could tackle the financial obstacles they are faced with. In fact, I was even able to study abroad in Rome during the summer thanks to funding from the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Gilman Scholarship.
3. Location and Weather – I’m from Long Beach. The spectacular LA weather was nothing new to me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate it for it was worth. In addition, being an hour away from home was a nice convenience which I still lean upon in times of need during the semester. Los Angeles is a cosmopolitan city. I had grown up with kids from all types of backgrounds and ethnicities. USC takes that to another level. There are students from all over the world with incredible personalities and ideas. Diversity of character and outlooks is something I cherished greatly, and USC checked that box emphatically.
4. Student Involvement – I could write a series of blogs on my love for student involvement. It was something I got into immediately as I entered during my first semester here and continue to pursue now as a second semester junior. The passion and dedication exhibited by student groups to have an impact on campus and beyond is invigorating. It’s a privilege to collaborate with talented students from all majors on projects ranging from Startup Career Fairs and startup incubators to 3D-printing exhibitions and hackathons/makeathons. The community invests time and knowledge into younger members who eventually rise to the top and return the favor to the next generation of incoming students. Through my involvements, I met some of my closest friends and formed some of my most precious college memories.
5. Research – USC is a research university. While I have not conducted research on campus myself, it’s something I wanted to have as an option when attending a school. A large portion of biomedical engineering students get involved in research during their freshmen year. There are labs on campus recruiting students from all types of disciplines, with engineers being in heavy demand. A lot of the professors I’ve had have their own labs on campus and conduct their research with the help of both graduate and undergraduate students. With the addition of the brand new Michelson center, research is continuing to flourish on campus.
It’s much easier for me to look back now and say I made the right choice to come to USC. I could not say it with such certainty four years ago. At the end of the day, I tried to make the best decision for myself. Once here, I made it a mission to seize all the opportunities that enticed me to attend USC in the first place. I also had a great support system of advisors and upperclassmen who always had my back. It’s this love and support that has fueled my passions and made me into the person I am today.