It is commonly thought that engineers “don’t have a life.” Thus, when I became interested in engineering, I was hesitant. I definitely didn’t want to spend my weekends couped up in the library or even pull all-nighters working on projects. When deciding on colleges, I realized that USC not only offered one of the best engineering educations in the country but also allowed for flexibility to engage in non-engineering activities.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to eat, sleep, and breathe engineering, you could throw yourself into great pre-professional and project-based clubs. However, when I came to USC, I instead spread my activities and extracurriculars out to include many different passions of mine including club sports, the outdoors, service, and engineering research. After hours of engineering classes and physics lab, I look forward to climbing practice or volunteering with Troy Camp. These activities provide breaks in my schedule to remain motivated and driven in my more academic classes. Balancing a tough schedule with my passions has facilitated my success in classes these past two years.

Enjoying some free time with my Troy Camp family

While many may immediately assume my involvement at USC is simply an anomaly in the engineering school, I have found that almost all of my fellow students are similarly active in extracurriculars. While you probably won’t find another student involved in the same activities as me, every single engineering student has an interestingly curated schedule of commitments that reflect their passions. Even during stressful midterm weeks, commitments to volunteer or train help keep me focused on my end goal while also providing a sort of “active recovery” for my brain.

For all incoming students, I recommend signing up and expressing interest for all clubs and activities that catch your eye the first month of school. It is difficult to determine if you will enjoy them just through a short information session or a flier, so try them out and see which ones you become attached to. This process allowed me to quickly find my passions at USC while becoming a part of smaller communities within the school.

While adding more commitments to a tough course load may seem contradictory to success, me and my fellow Trojans have thrived with this approach. In my experience, the secret to achieving your goals lies in remaining motivated and excited for the variety of classes, activities, and sports each day.

Fight on!

Emily Powis

Emily Powis

MAJOR: Biomedical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Denver, Colorado PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @emilyspowis Within Viterbi I conduct research in 3D ultrasound development. Outside of engineering, I compete and train with the SC Climbing Team, guide outdoor trips with SC Ouftitters, volunteer as an Emergency Medical Technician with EMSC, help provide mentorship for K-12 students as a counselor in Troy Camp, and coach Special Olympics!

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