This summer was one of the most incredible summers of my life, as I got to spend it participating in a service learning study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa!  Cape Town was one of my favorite cities, and I am convinced it is one of the best places for a young person in the entire world.  Throughout my time there, I had numerous experiences that pushed me out of my comfort zone and I felt my brain and heart expanding each day.

While in Cape Town, I took classes at the University of Cape Town related to Poverty and Development.  Basically, I was using Cape Town as a case study to understand the way in which poverty becomes a problem in developing nations, and the effects of poverty on a nation.  When I was not in class, I was participating in service through an organization called Yabonga (which means “thanks” in Xhosa, one of the native languages), where I worked with HIV affected youth.  The experience was very powerful, and taught me a lot about myself.  Other things I got to do during my time in Cape Town were : shark cage diving, bungee jumping, ostrich riding, canoeing, and tons of hiking.  After my program ended, my dad met me in Johannesburg and we went on a 10 day safari through Zimbabwe, Botswana and northern South Africa.  It was such an incredible trip, and one I had always dreamed about taking.  There is nothing quite as wonderful as experiencing nature, and seeing an animal in its natural environment.

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Now that I’m back, I’m very excited to be starting my semester!  My schedule looks like this:

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The classes I am taking have been very interesting so far.  My favorite two classes are AME 305, Mechanical Design, and Theatrical Film Symposium.  In Mechanical Design, we take principles we learned in strength of materials and apply them to the design of structures and mechanisms.  It is a very important class to take for any type of practical design work I plan to do after I graduate.  Film Symposium is a class I am taking for my minor in Cinematic Arts where we watch a movie that has not yet been released, and a person who worked on the film comes into class to speak about it.  I am also enrolled in my senior design class, which is going to be very demanding, but I am looking forward to the challenge.  My group and I will be designing and building a robot that is meant to be a small scale model of a military robot, whose purpose is to carry food to troops over rough terrain.

Outside of class, it will be another busy semester!  I am currently the Service Chair for Pi Tau Sigma, which is the Mechanical Engineering honor society.  In addition to that, I am now working at the USC Volunteer Center as a student coordinator for the Alternative Spring Break trip to Isla Mujeres, MX.  I am also the Philanthropy Chair and an active member of Delta Kappa Alpha, the professional cinema fraternity, and an active member of my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi.  It is sure to be a busy semester, but an exciting one!


Samantha Kaplan-2015

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2015, Learn more on her profile here!