When I decided to come to USC in the spring of my senior year of high school, I had no idea what I was getting into. I hadn’t toured campus, had never heard of Viterbi Voices or the VSAs, and had only been to Los Angeles (and the United States!) once when I was ten years old. In other words, I didn’t know very much about USC. 

So why I chose USC was not really founded upon a clear understanding of what college here would be like. I was looking to get out of my comfort zone (ended up moving 7000 miles away from home, so you know, go big or go home), start over somewhere I knew absolutely no one, and live in a diverse city where I would feel like my background would be respected. And luckily for me, USC delivered on all three fronts. 

I realized first that getting out of my comfort zone didn’t end with moving to Los Angeles – it’s something that I have found myself doing every single semester at USC. From joining a Model United Nations club on campus and doing political science research as an engineering student, to interning in Shanghai through the Global Fellows program and declaring several different minors… every experience at USC has been about pushing my limits and my understanding of what college as an engineer is like. 

My Model UN team and I on a hike near Malibu

As I enter my last week of undergraduate classes ever (wow), I could not be more grateful for the breadth of things I have gotten to try at USC. I chose USC because I thought it would be a diverse school (as an international student, that was of utmost importance to me) but what I didn’t realize was that diversity extends beyond the student population. My college experience as a whole has been diverse too – in the classes I have taken, the student clubs I have joined, and the incredible people I have met. 

That being said, USC was never my dream school. I chose USC because it ticked the boxes: it was a new place to start over, in a diverse and (relatively) big city, and financially more viable than the other options I had. Similarly, if wherever you end up choosing does not feel like a perfect fit or like the ‘right choice’ right now, that is okay. For many people, that feeling comes later. 

For me, it was midway through my freshman year – on my first birthday at college, surrounded by my new friends in vibrant downtown Los Angeles – when I felt for the first time like the reasons I chose USC were the right ones. Now, four years later I can say that although USC may not have been my dream school, my time here has felt like a dream come true. 

Me + the DTLA skyline, my freshman year

Sheetal Madnani

Sheetal Madnani

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Guangzhou, China PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @sheetalmadnani On campus I have been involved with Model UN, Freshman Academy, and interning abroad through the Global Fellows program! I also conduct research in environmental policy and climate mitigation, and am involved in climate advocacy through the LA Mayor's office.