It has been another whirlwind of a week! Wow. Sophomore year is continuing to be super busy, but it’s still super gratifying to be growing so much as a computer scientist. I still love my CS classes, but now I’ve even come to really appreciate the GE I’m taking.
Yes, USC does have a General Education (GE) program. No, it really isn’t as terrible as it seems. I came into college thinking that every single one of my GEs would be the bane of my existence and, well, I was wrong. It does seem daunting at first to be required to take a whole bunch of classes that are not necessarily your forte, but so far my experience with GEs has actually been pretty amazing.
Last semester, I took CTAN200, a class in the School of Cinematic Arts called “The Rise of Digital Hollywood” taught by Tom Sito. Un.Believe.Able. Professor Sito was so incredibly knowledgeable about the evolution of computer graphics in film, that he would just come to class and start chatting about it, as if it was just another dinner table conversation he was having with some peers. He would spout off dates and facts nonchalantly and drop some big names he’d worked with without a second blink. I suppose his expertise in the field shouldn’t have been all that surprising seeing as how he literally wrote the book on the history of CGI. He also spent most of his life in industry, working on some of the most iconic animated films of all time. He actually walked into class one day, whipped out a portfolio, and told us to check out some of his sketches from back in the day. We were expecting his to show us some characters that maybe we’d seen or heard of before, but we certainly did not expect him to whip out sketches of the genie from Aladdin and the beast from Beauty and the Beast!!! He offhandedly informed us as he was flipping through his sketches for the class to see that he was one of the animators for both films and that they weren’t the only super-big-name projects he was involved in. Needless to say, CTAN200 was a spectacular class.
And now this semester, I’m taking another GE, ENGL298, a class called “Introduction to the Genre of Fiction.” Um. Wow. I had no idea how much I missed my high school English classes until I took this class. The stories we read are absolutely captivating and the professor, Chris Freeman, is an extremely charismatic discussion-leader. The conversation in my English class is always going strong. Since ENGL298 is a bit of a larger class, we also have discussion sections of around 15 people each that everyone in my class is broken up into. The discussion sections are taught by TAs who are some of the funniest, most extroverted, and overall snazzy people I’ve ever met. My TA specifically is a published poet who loves letting us take the reins on our conversations about the text in our discussion section. Last week, she held a one-on-one conference with every single one of us and offered to talk about whatever we wanted to. I’ve always had a strong interest in creative writing, so I decided to send her a story I’m currently working on. It’s about 10,000 words or 36 pages right now so I certainly did not expect her to read the whole thing, but not only did she read every page and make comments, she had critical feedback ready for me at our conference. She listened to my concerns about the piece and helped me figure out a way to address them.
Beyond just how incredible my professors and classes have been, the great thing about both my GEs is that they made me realize my academic interest in two new fields. As Spring registration for courses nears, I can’t help but want to add on a minor from either the School of Cinematic Arts or the English department. I can’t wait to explore one of these fields further, and I definitely can’t wait to see what experience my next GE will bring me.