Experiencing the Trojan Family: A USC Education Reaches Beyond Your Coursework

Natalie Monger Computer Science, Natalie, Viterbi Class, Viterbi Plus

Today I want to write about some recent events I have been to (or put on myself) to show that a USC education isn’t just about attending classes, studying, and taking tests. In my opinion, it’s important to take advantage of these events. You may even make a connection for an internship or meet someone who is willing to help you in your academic endeavors and projects!

Here are three fun and educational events I attended recently:

1. Keynote Viewing and Women in Engineering Event at Disney Creative Campus

I attended Grace Hopper Celebration, a conference for women in computer science, last year, but since I was unable to attend this year, I wanted to view the keynote speech Melinda Gates gave for the 2017 attendees. Disney was kind enough to replay a taping of her keynote and provide yummy food and a place for computer science students, educators, and recruiters to network.

I loved exploring what one of the Disney campuses looks and feels like, meeting current Disney employees and hearing about their past projects, and receiving advice from women in the field on how to be the best computer scientist I can be.

2. Intellectual Property Panel Discussion & Reception

On Monday night, I had the opportunity to attend a prestigious event called “Leveraging IP in Today’s Knowledge Economy,” held at the Town & Gown Ballroom on campus. I attended this event through a class I am taking, The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Intellectual Property. I even had the opportunity to chaperone the speakers before the event.

The speakers were some intellectual property “bigshots” including Allen Lo from Facebook, Judge Paul Michel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Suzanne Wilson from The Walt Disney Company, Mark Ringes from IBM, and Linda Llyod da Silva from World Intellectual Property Organization.

Chaperoning the speakers and listening to the panel from the audience taught me so much about how important intellectual property is in entrepreneurship. I especially find interest in IP topics that center around technology–like what kinds of technology products can be copyrighted, trademarked, or patented–because it’s important for me to understand these things if I ever want to start my own company.

Overall, this event was very special, and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to attend. The other student chaperones and I even made President Nikias’ Instagram post!

3. Freshman Academy Engineering Costume Contest

As a Freshman Academy Coach, I plan activities for each class, and since our class fell on Halloween this week, I decided to get festive with it!

Before coming to college freshman year, I gathered old costumes from my dance recitals and bought silly pieces from Party City and put them into a “costume box,” which I still have today (by the way, I highly recommend you do the same–it comes in handy). I brought my costume box to class, scattered the pieces in the front of the classroom, and instructed each team of students to pick the costume pieces they wanted and put them on one team member in creative ways. They had 15 minutes to come up with a costume and a backstory for a character to be judged by my co-coach, Adam, and me. The presentations of their creations were very dramatic and comical!

This activity was so fun for students because they were able to think of different ways to use common items and create a story behind it, which is something I’m interested in as well. It’s important for engineers to be creative to solve the world’s greatest problems, and I like to have an impact on the creative thinking of my students by planning activities like this.


These are just three events I have attended recently, but there are more events coming up soon. Many of these events have led to new connections and new ideas, and, even if they didn’t, I find so much joy in hanging out with my fellow Trojans.

About the Author

Natalie is a junior studying Computer Science/Business and Dance. Click the photo above to find out more.

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