“They will see us waving from such great
Heights, ‘come down now,’ they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
‘come down now,’ but we’ll stay…”-The Postal Service
It’s hard for me to take a step back and realize that in a few short months, I will officially be a senior at USC. What I have come to realize is that while I have personally ascended in class standing here, so too has the school itself and those around me, in a multitude of ways . Additionally, this place has helped me ascend and reach new heights internally. I couldn’t be more thankful, and I want to take a few lines to explain why USC exemplifies what it means to ascend.
Ascend(v)- to rise to a higher point, level, degree, etc.
USC as an entire entity is so progressive. Just in my three years here, I’ve watched the campus change, myself change, and those around me change, all for the better. In my eyes, these “better” changes have all between characterized by a move forward or “higher” somehow. That’s the part that amazes me. I guess the easiest way to do this, is to describe these ascensions each separately, and then speak to how they all come together for me.
I came into my freshman year at USC as a 17 year-old who thought she had it all together. I had a concrete plan, goals to achieve, and (at least I thought) a pretty good general idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I would major in electrical engineering, and hopefully apply to law school and go on to have a brilliant career as a patent attorney., While I still want to do those things, the classes, professors, people, and experiences I’ve had/met here have shaken and turned my perspective, world view, and self perception upside down. It took me a while to adjust, but I feel like my sense of who I am and what I want to do is so much more informed. Since coming here, I’ve learned that I have so many other interests and talents, and I find myself thinking about new ways (outside of the original concrete goal) to apply those skills in a way that will be meaningful and help me make a contribution/my mark on the world. Recently, I’ve been seriously considering starting my own company after college based around an idea I’ve been toying with. For my first semester here, I thought entrepreneurs were bright people with pipe dreams. However, after founding NOBE, and being exposed to all the LA accelerator programs, and meeting so many incredibly talented people (including many successful and not so successful entrepreneurs and business owners), I am so excited by the idea of potentially creating my own job for myself. I can truly say my world view has ascended, and that is directly a result of my time here. I feel so much more open minded.
Along those same lines, being involved in the film school here has made me really conscious and excited about writing. I came into college knowing I liked to write. That was all I knew about my writing abilities though. Given my passion for film/television/pop culture, I decided to take a screenwriting class here. I knew I couldn’t spend four years here without experiencing our cinematic arts program in some capacity. What I didn’t know, however, was that I would fall in love with the art of screenwriting, learn so much about the actual business of Hollywood/selling scripts and making projects happen, become familiar with script coverage and how to properly analyze stories, simulate actual writer’s rooms in my classes, and gain insight from seasoned vets on how to do these things right. Much like my thoughts on founding a company/being an entrepreneur, I felt also that the idea of people wanting to make their careers either making or writing movies/television was a pipe dream. I know what you’re thinking, I was one skeptical kid! While I have learned that these things are incredibly difficult, I see now that they are possible. Furthermore, it is the fact that they are not easy, and there are no guarantees, that makes them more rewarding. Screenwriting, in particular, has been a great chance for me to discover a new hidden talent. I definitely want to continue to pursue it, and eventually sell a script. Had I never taken that first class, I probably would have never realized this dream or this ability. This new self-discovery, sense of awareness, and lack of pessimism truly exemplifies what it means to ascend for me. Compared to where my mind and heart were three years ago, they are now in a spot with a much better view. My mindset and goals have definitely ascended.
I am surrounded by people and occurrences who continue to uplift and inspire those around them. Their ascensions from the ashes after a difficult time, through a challenge, or above any issues continually amazes me. This shouldn’t be all too surprising, considering that the 5 attributes of a Trojan are faithful, skillful, scholarly, courageous, and ambitious. While those seem like five nice words associated with our school, that look good on paper and on a statue, you don’t realize how many people truly exemplify these words until you see it happening. Whether it’s something as monumental as a Trojan Olympian overcoming the prospect of never walking again and going on to win a medal, or a fellow Trojan student overcoming the stereotypes of a lifelong leg paralysis and learning how to surf and remain active, or something more (seemingly) trivial like a friend who takes on a subject they have no familiarity with, struggling, and overcoming their struggles, I see acts of ascension and inspiration on a daily basis. On an academic front, several of my close friends here use their smarts and communication skills to serve as tutors in the Viterbi Academic Resource Center (VARC). Whether it be myself or others, I watch them continue to not only ascend in their expertise, but help and liberate others to do the same. The same can be said of almost any professor I’ve had here. After, for the first time in my life, receiving the class low score on an exam, I have a professor (and an excellent TA) who has since met with me weekly for extra help and personal tutoring. Since then, I have been able to ascend not only in my personal understanding, but in my sense of confidence about my abilities to handle that subject matter.
Basically, watching those around you ascend liberates and enables you do to the same. That has very much been my experience here. Furthermore, it’s an amazing feeling to watch your predecessors continue to exemplify this trait as citizens in their respective fields. Seeing Trojans listed on the academy award nominees list and being inducted into the National Academy of Engineering gives me both butterflies and hope.
For me, watching new buildings spring up around our campus on a regular basis has been more symbolic than anything else. It is a physical manifestation of the ascension I see in myself and those around me. It is a literal representation of an ongoing, and beautiful process for all members of the Trojan family. We find ways to be better, to rise higher than we ever thought possible, to move forward and upward. Our school’s personal brand, professors, and campus resources find the best ways to help us achieve our goals, whether it be through ridiculous connections with the entertainment and engineering industries, centers for fostering innovation, or an emphasis on strong professor-student relationships. We are never satisfied with good, and always strive to be better, to rise above the norm.
We inspire, and we are inspired.
We grow as individuals and as a collective body, while we are here, and long after we leave this place.
We are Trojans, and we ascend.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.” -Marianne Williamson