As an engineering student, schedules fill up quickly. Between six classes, research, design teams, and of course podcasting, I often look at my calendar for the day and I don’t even have 30 minutes free. When my classmates pull up their calendars, it looks about the same. There’s a lot to take part in at USC, and it’s the nature of Viterbi students to get involved. This is generally a good thing — there is so much to be learned from opportunities like engineering research and clubs, but time spent on one thing is time not spent on others.

Reflecting on my first two and a half years at USC, I realized that I had gotten involved in everything Viterbi but failed to integrate myself in the greater USC community. Namely, I had missed out on so many amazing free events USC hosts because my focus was too one dimensional. Each semester, USC brings speakers, artists, and films to the school that students can engage with for free. USC also gives students free access to some events around LA, for example, film screenings.

Just last fall, I missed a special preview screening of Little Women, a performance by Sarah Jones, and an evening with one of my favorite artists, Doug Aitken. I have also made it to some really cool events, such as an Annenberg event honoring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and an LA Times Festival of Books conversation with Joyce Carol Oates. It would be impossible to attend all the events USC gives its students access to, but this semester I am making an effort to prioritize these sorts of things, as it will likely be the only time in my life I have such unbridled access to artists, activists, politicians, etc.

So far this semester, I went to a multimedia event produced by the LA Opera, called The Body Female, and just last night I went to an Oscar Week panel on the nominated documentary films at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Both events exposed me to new art and new ideas, which I think is one of the biggest things I can gain as an undergrad.

As a USC student, you have the agency to manage your time, prioritizing what you wish. As I sometimes have myself, it’s easy to get caught up in the engineering workload and miss out on a lot of things that help to make the college experience. As an engineer, I should be engaging with the artists, speakers, and critical cultural conversations USC makes so accessible. This semester I’m looking forward to doing so.

Many USC events are hosted through Visions and Voices, the USC Arts and Humanities Initiative… check out their offerings here:

Audrey Roberts

Audrey Roberts

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Denver, Colorado PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @audrey.roberts On campus, I lead outreach for the USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, do materials research in the M.C. Gill Composites Center, and am the Academic Chair of my sorority.