One of my favorite Audrey Hepburn quotes goes a little something like this: “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands–one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
Audrey’s quote is a great summary of my experience at USC so far. Going through the college admissions process, picking a school, and starting my freshman year were not easy tasks, especially since I decided to attend school far from home and my family. Going through this process was overwhelming for me, but now that I’m past it and learned so much from taking these risks, I am able to give back to those who are experiencing these processes by giving them advice and sharing my own stories.
At USC, I’m involved in a number of things where I spend my time helping others:
1. Freshman Academy Coach
It makes me happy to connect with freshmen and help them settle in at USC. When I was a freshman, my coaches were great points of contact and advice, so I like to give back by doing the same for the students that are in my Academy class.
One of my duties as a Coach is to plan social and educational events for freshmen. Before classes started, we threw the annual Viterbi Luau, which included games, a limbo contest, and ice cream sandwiches.
Last weekend, I coordinated with the professor of our class and took our students to the Getty Villa and Venice Beach.
Serving as a Coach is entertaining, educational, and fulfilling. I’m sad the semester is almost over, but I can’t wait to see what kinds of amazing things my students will do in the future!
2. Course Producer (CP) for CSCI201 (Principles of Software Development)
Before I became a CP for CS201, I had the impression that a teaching assistant has to be an incredibly smart PhD student with great teaching skills. While many TA positions require these qualifications, USC allows undergraduates to be hired for undergraduate teaching positions for certain courses as well. After I took CS201, I reflected on how much I enjoyed the material and how I wanted to try my hand at teaching, so I accepted an offer to work as a CP.
I have enjoyed my time as a CP so far because I love seeing students succeed in their pursuit of becoming better software developers and team members. As a CP, I hold weekly office hours, grade assignments, proctor exams, and lead team projects. While these tasks may sound mundane to some people, I really enjoy them because I like practicing my leadership skills and learning how to explain advanced concepts in ways that people can understand easily.
Being a CP is a great way to give back and connect with the professor of the course. It also keeps me sharp on the concepts I learned when I took the course, especially since I may frequently encounter these concepts in industry projects.
3. General Volunteering Opportunities
You don’t have to be a member of specific organizations to volunteer on campus; there are plenty of general opportunities available. Throughout my time at USC, I have volunteered at the LA Regional Food Bank, participated in SWE’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, hosted high school students for a program called Explore USC, and more. I also enjoy talking to parents of high school students at admission events like Discover USC.
I often joke with my friends that I spend more time in college helping others than I spend doing things for myself, but that’s just who I am as a person and how I keep myself happy. And now I will cue another quote by Helen Keller: “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.”
Cheers to the volunteers out there!