It gives sustenance, cultivates creativity, and is different everywhere in the world. The combinations of this glorious thing can be compared to the millions of DNA combinations that define our genome. The preparation can follow the systematic engineering design process or the chaotic behavior of oscillating chemical reactions. This thing makes me happy and brings me closer to my own culture and other cultures in the world. It unites families and allows for cultural integration. This thing is food. 

To me, understanding my culture and others is an advantage in today’s society due to globalization and the melting pot that is the U.S. Whether I prepare a traditional dish from the Yoruba culture or an Indian recipe suggested by one of my best friends, I wonder about the history of that dish; how it got to that location and how that specific culture utilized ingredients, in contrast to how those ingredients may be used in another culture. Food not only makes me intellectually curious but also culturally aware. Every meal has a story, every ingredient has a history, every chef has a motive, and every eater has a desire. Food is more than just something I eat and cook. It reflects my life. Just as how food can be spicy, savory, sweet, and sour, my life takes on diverse flavors influenced by my surroundings and prepares them to create the imperfect, although peculiar dish that is me. 

I love food and being an engineer at Viterbi has given me access to the fantastic cuisine that the city of Los Angeles has to offer. I always knew that the university I would attend must have excellent cuisine as food is another way I get to express myself. I chose Viterbi because it is located in the culturally diverse area of downtown Los Angeles, and its location gives me access to different types of food from different cultures.

Elena Ikeocha

Elena Ikeocha

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering (Petroleum Emphasis) YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Townsend, Delaware PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @Sarpurple On-campus, I am an Executive House Manager for USC's Trojan Events Services and a member of USC's co-ed Professional Engineering Fraternity Theta Tau. I am a member of the club field hockey and golf team. In terms of professional clubs, I am a member of AIChE.

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