Growing up in a small, predominately white suburb of Chicago, I didn’t have a chance to experience true diversity until coming to USC. As a highly acclaimed research institution, Viterbi attracts students of unique backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures from every corner of the world. I believe exposure to diversity is a crucial aspect of a complete learning experience. Interacting and exchanging ideas with people from totally different upbringings broadens our perspectives and allows us to adopt a more globalized outlook on political, social, and engineering related issues.
Just last week, I sat down next to a Chinese graduate student in our dining hall. He told me how surprised he was that American students have so much freedom. The high school he went to was a sleep-away school where you were only allowed to leave during the weekend. Students could either study engineering or take the liberal arts track…that’s it! This conversation was eye-opening for me and made me realize how lucky I was to go to a school that allows its students so much freedom to grow outside of the classroom and pursue multiple passions.
I also found it interesting how similar American teenagers are to teens from totally different countries. The first week I moved into my dorm, I met a girl from Puerto Rico, another from South Africa, and one from Thailand. It’s been so cool comparing the cities we grew up in, our areas of interest, and even high school experiences. It was funny to find that we listened to the same music and liked to do the same things on the weekend like going to concerts, seeing movies, and hanging with friends. These girls have become three of my good friends and have sparked in me an interest to travel and study abroad someday. Not only is USC diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, but interest groups as well.
Along with the finest engineering students around (aka coolest kids ever), USC draws in the most talented cinematography, fine arts, writing, and communications students as well as incredible athletes from across the country. The fact that we can support a PAC-12 football team in a packed stadium, see a student run-production or film at USC’s McClintok theatre, and even do research in a high-tech laboratory all in one weekend is amazing.
Having exposure to a variety of people, cultures and interests really cultivates a well-rounded education and allows students to expand their horizons and stretch beyond their comfort zones. I definitely recommend getting to know the international students and peers from different majors. We have so much to learn from each other [: