I have been trying to answer this question for the past three years and I honestly don’t think I have a concise answer. Buy me a coffee and a donut, block out a few hours in your calendar and we can talk. That’s not the best option right now, so I’ll just let you read my rambling thoughts. I hope they help.

A couple days ago, I booked my flight back home and came to the unfortunate realization that my time at USC and in Los Angeles is coming to an end. An end without any foreseeable return and that’s incredibly scary to me. Honestly, there are days when I seriously contemplate just coming back and getting my master’s here so I can have a bit more time. That’s part of the answer, right? – I’d do anything to have a bit more time here. I’d give anything to freeze time for a while and just have a good time with my friends. 

But that’s also what’s been so great about my time here – I’ve made so many great memories here and I want to keep making more. Los Angeles is a really great place for a college student. There are too many things to and places to explore and I’ve never felt more independent – USC challenged me and I’m better because of it.

On the education front, the engineering curriculum is probably the one thing you’ll find to be consistent across the board with a lot of top engineering programs. However, the support, guidance and time given to students at USC is unmatched. My largest ISE class had 30 students and my smallest class had 20. Having a relatively small class size allowed me to get to know people in my major really well but also allowed me to engage, participate and take part in class discussions, something that would’ve been overwhelming to me in larger classes. My department advisor has also been incredibly helpful in walking me through the process of changing my major and figuring out what I wanted to do with my career.

I think what I’m most grateful for from an academic standpoint is having flexibility and minimal constraints. The school understands that most students might not be exactly sure what field of engineering is for them. I came to USC as a computer science major and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me. By this point, I was halfway through my sophomore year and really worried that I had wasted all this time and money.

If it wasn’t for USC’s random roommate generator, I wouldn’t have met my best friend (trust the process my friends). I have made so many genuine friends throughout my time here, some even in the last couple of months. My friends are so passionate, thoughtful and kind and they only inspire me. I am so fortunate to surround myself with those who constantly amaze me. 

Viterbi helped me to find a new path as soon as I realized my old path no longer excited me. The school truly believes that engineers should be well-rounded, and their academic background should be interdisciplinary – it’s the only reason I felt truly comfortable to pursue my interests in politics and public policy. My background helped me when I worked on a presidential campaign and when I worked at a political-tech company. Viterbi erased any stereotypes I had of engineering and redefined my understanding of engineers.

Simply put, I have no regrets or second thoughts about committing to USC. It’s a part of me now and I’m leaving Los Angeles a stronger, better, more compassionate person than I was when I arrived. 🥲

Slide the yellow bar to see how much I’ve changed in four years! The photo on the left was taken in 2018, during my freshman year. The photo on the right was taken a couple days ago, during my senior year. And strangely enough, I look more tired in the first photo. Maybe I finally have things under control.

Fight on forever y’all. ✌️✌️

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.