In high school, I took four computer science classes. In three of those classes, I was the only female student. As a junior, of all of my classes, two have been taught by female faculty and one of the classes wasn’t in Viterbi. For as long as I can remember, one of my biggest fears about being a woman in engineering was not having a sense of community. In the beginning, it definitely felt like that and there are still days when I wish I had a greater sense of community.

That’s where USC OWN IT comes in. Don’t get me wrong, I think our Society of Women Engineers chapter is great but I wanted a community that included women of every discipline. That’s how I came across OWN IT. I found out about the group my freshman year and I’ve been in love ever since. OWN IT is a group of women at USC who plan and organize an annual summit that bridges the gap between female leaders of the 21st century and the rising women who’d like to join them. The summit hosts several speakers, including Yvonne Orji, Lisa Kudrow and President Folt, and encourages students at USC to learn about different industries and the female leaders taking them on.

Since freshman year, I told myself that I was going to try my hardest to be one of the women who helped to create this wonderful event. Since April of this year, I’ve held the position of Assistant Director of Speakers position and my summer has been filled with emailing and talking to some really incredible women. Not only do I get to talk to amazing women and tell them about OWN IT, I’ve met some of the smartest, most supportive people through OWN IT. Junior year has been tough, and knowing they’re in my corner has helped immensely.

I am grateful to be part of a group that intends on creating a safe space for women to talk about their ambitions, fears and careers. Even if you’re not a student at USC, be sure to check out our summit. Maybe you can even attend! I hope you do.

Mahima Varanasi

Mahima Varanasi

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @mahima On campus I am part of OWN IT, a women's leadership team who plans an annual summit based on amazing women helping each other out. Outside of Viterbi, I am involved in political campaigns.