I’ve had such a blast meeting prospective students who have come out to some our events such as Meet USC and Discover USC over the past few months. As you all have asked me about my experiences here at USC and Viterbi, I have been reminded of my own decision as a high school senior choosing the right university.

During high school I explored potential majors for college and fell in love with Industrial Engineering after a family friend suggested I look into that field. Since Industrial Engineering is somewhat of a specialized major, I did my college research early and narrowed it down to just two schools–a practical choice and my dream school. I applied to Georgia Institute of Technology and USC and was accepted to both.

My parents strongly encouraged me to go to Georgia Tech. It was, after all, a great school with a strong reputation. In addition, it was the school that “made sense.” Georgia Tech was only 40 minutes away from my hometown and my older sister and I could go to school together. But something about Georgia Tech was just lacking. Each time I stepped on campus, I wasn’t excited about the prospect of studying there. I didn’t feel like I would be part of a community, and I thought I would be lost in a sea of students in huge classes and major programs.

I remember the first pamphlet I received from USC my junior year of high school, and I’ll admit that I was initially intrigued by the thought of studying engineering at a school that had palm trees and beaches nearby. Who wouldn’t want to live a glamourous college lifestyle in southern California? But the rational side of my quickly put the sunny skies and beautiful campus aside, and began to consider the more important aspects of USC.

USC was obviously a great engineering school, with top ranked academics, a strong alumni network, and plenty of opportunities to succeed in Industrial Engineering. But above Georgia Tech, I felt that USC was a community that would truly help me engage in engineering, not just study it through textbooks. I learned from current students that USC had outstanding research facilities, and that undergrad research was not only common, but actively encouraged. (Little did I know that I would too begin paid research only weeks into my freshmen year at USC.) It also seemed as though the staff and faculty were able to utilize the benefits of a private education to offer small, more intimate class sizes, better classroom/lab facilities, and a wider range of support and tutoring services. Finally, I loved the connections and opportunities USC students had from being located in California; all the best companies–many of which are headquartered in California–were recruiting USC students after graduation.

When I finally had the opportunity to visit USC for a campus tour, I was blown away by the campus, students, faculty, and staff. The students seemed not only intellectual, but well rounded, and were pursuing their interests in various fields (unlike some of the more single-minded, anti-social engineering students I had met at other universities…). The faculty were excited to be teaching–not just teaching as a means of having access to a research lab. And most importantly, USC just felt like home. There was something intangible about the way I felt walking around campus imagining myself as a Trojan.

When I returned home to Georgia I had a tough decision to make. Should I go to the cost-effective, local school that my parents wanted me to attend, or should I take a risk and move across the country to the school of my dreams? Fate made my decision for me and took away the only real obstacle standing between me and USC; I was incredibly blessed to receive the Trustee Scholarship, which was the final tipping point for my parents to stand behind my decision to move across the country.

A house divided...my home in Georgia with GT and USC flags

Looking back, I had no idea how my college decision would impact my life so much. USC has offered me opportunities I could never have imagined, and I am confident that I would not have excelled in my academics or risen to such leadership positions elsewhere. In addition, every day at USC has been an absolute joy. Especially now that I will be graduating in two months and leaving California to move to Texas, I am so appreciated of this amazing college experience. You’ll be sure to see me back on campus soon for alumni events and football games! I’m surely going to miss USC.