The summer before my freshman year at USC, I was sitting freezing cold in the Las Vegas airport air conditioning waiting to board a plane to Chicago. I pulled on my prized USC sweatshirt I had bought that past April after officially enrolling in the school, excited to show off my school colors and finally be like all the college students that I had seen for years proudly wearing their school name and logo anywhere they went. I remembered what I’d heard from my USC tour about how, no matter where you are, you’re bound to find another Trojan, past or present, there with you. I thought this was just a college talking point and all a bit of an exaggeration because USC just really liked to hype up prospective students about the Trojan family. I mean, was I really going to find another USC student at this specific terminal and gate in the Las Vegas Airport on a Tuesday afternoon? Well sure enough when I boarded the plane with my big, gold USC letters blazed across my chest, a flight attendant immediately asked if I went there and gave me an enthusiastic “fight-on”. When exiting the plane, he did the same and wished me luck starting classes in a few months. While a fairly simple and arguably mundane interaction, it really surprised and excited me that already I was becoming a part of USC despite not even having moved into my dorm or started in my very first courses. I guess this was the Trojan Family I’d heard so much about!
If you’ve looked into USC at all during your college search and application process, you’ve probably seen the words “Trojan Family” come up time and time again. All schools are proud of their alumni base and network, but USC does this on a whole new level. I know after I’d heard or read about USC alumni-student interactions like the one I wrote about above or students getting job opportunities through the vast Trojan connections, it excited me but I was also a bit suspicious. I mean, could a college alumni network really be so far reaching, ever-present, and always ready-to-help as USC claimed theirs was? After only a year and a half at this school, I can firmly say that yes, it’s all true.
What exactly is the Trojan Family though? It’s the spanning group of over 430,000 alumni from all around the world that can serve as mentors, friends, guides, supporters, job connections, etc. to the current students (either already on campus or preparing to come for their first year) who are also joined into this group. It’s a group that The family of students are also included in this spirit, especially when visiting their student at school or going to game days, along with faculty and advisors. This isn’t just a professional or utilitarian minded idea, it’s truly about connection and wanting to foster a strong unity amongst USC’s population. We’re proud to be Trojans and inspired following behind some incredible past students just as those alumni are thrilled by seeing the talent and potential of current students. The Trojan Family is the opposite of a self-serving attitude, it’s centered on sharing in this similar bond of USC and committing to help one another as the school has helped us. A common sentiment amongst alumni is this feeling of wanting to give back to a school and community that gave them so much during their years there and even after.
Okay, enough with that lengthy explanation that I totally don’t blame you if you didn’t read. I just know I was a bit skeptical and confused about the whole idea of the Trojan Family when I was first introduced to it so I thought some type of student definition might help. Really, what it has been for me is a support system. Knowing that such a large group of people are behind me and not only rooting for my success but willing to actively take a part in it by offering mentorship or professional insight. College can be a bit scary at times with the weight of true independence and adulthood looming over your shoulder as you progress towards graduation. Having people who have been through this before in much of the same way, seeing as they were literally walking the same paths and sitting in the same classrooms I am now, is a relief and a strength to me. I can learn about various campus clubs I was unaware of, scholarships and programs offered by USC, other alumni I can be put into contact with from my major specifically, etc. It’s not just comforting to have this guidance right now, it’s motivating. Seeing how these fellow Trojans have thrived and succeeded after leaving campus inspires me. Not that I want to speed up my time at USC and make it go faster than it already is, but through these alumni I’m able to see what exciting things can come next.
The Trojan Family is also the relationships you have with your fellow students on campus with you. It’s going to cheer at the theater performances where your drama major friend is the lead or helping a friend shoot a music video for their next rap single or simply studying in a library room for hours with a classmate. It’s supporting each other here and now, not just after graduation.
Though I might be a bit biased being a member of Society53 (the leadership board for the Student Alumni Society), I really encourage all USC students to get involved with the alumni in some capacity, whether through formal organizations like the Student Alumni Society or through events put on by the different schools to connect current students to alumni in their area or interests. Don’t come into these interactions and relationships with the goal of a future job in mind. While many alumni do love to give professional opportunities to other USC students, that’s not the point of all this. The point of it is a community centered on mutual guidance, support, and lasting relationships. The Trojan Family is really a gift that is truly unique to USC. Take advantage of it if you’re already here at school or know that it’s waiting to welcome you in if you choose to apply.