As a high school senior looking into colleges, I had a standard set of questions that each school needed to answer: How sunny is it there? Does it have good academics? Can I have a social life here? What type of extracurricular activities can I do? Does it “feel” right? Each question were answered when I visited the campuses to which I applied. Yet, on a campus tour at USC, the guide talked about the notion of a Trojan Family. To be honest, at the time, it didn’t really peak my interest too much and couldn’t tear me away from focusing on the campus’ beauty or how sunny it was (it had been snowing and cloudy in Ohio days before I visited USC). Now, as a senior looking back on my college career and preparing to move forward, this family is what I am most thankful for out of my college experience.

I first experienced our familial bonds at my first game day at USC, which I described in one of my first posts. Yet, as the years progressed, I began to notice that the Trojan Family didn’t only display itself during sporting events.  Academically, I can’t begin to describe how willing students are to help each other with homework and studying: personally, I’ve never known anyone to refuse help because they were “competing” for a better grade in the same class. The desire to help and be there for one another was evident in my extracurriculars as well. In Rocket Lab, experienced members take the time to impart their knowledge and skills on the newbies. In my research group, if you get in a jam, anyone will pause work for a moment to try and help you figure out the problem. Through my fraternity, not only have I witnessed brothers help each other daily, but I’ve seen the entire Greek community come together to support individual non-Greek members as well as university wide causes (like Swim with Mike). And these are just three of many examples.

The past four years have also brought about personal struggles and growth. Like other college students, I questioned a lot of things about myself, about my future, and about life in general: what type of person do I want to be? what should I do this summer? what really matters to me in life? It was very important for me to answer these questions and I am incredibly happy that I had people around me who took the time to help. I would often find myself discussing these topics with students, some of whom were mere acquaintances, with similar questions. There were times where I’d start talking to a friend about something on my mind (or vice versa) in the middle of doing homework. Next thing we knew, 2 hours passed. Now I’ve experienced this enough times to know that it’s not a fluke: I truly believe that the students here care for one another and want to see their friends succeed, even if it means taking time out of their busy schedules to do so. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this same effect with professors.

As you may know, professors have office hours to help with homework, go over grades, etc. However, just about as many times as I’ve gone in for homework help, I’ve gone to office hours to talk about things unrelated to class. I’ve found that the professors here are open to talk about anything from personal hobbies to imparting advice about my future. I’ve also found that they don’t shy away from giving personal anecdotes to help guide students. A prime example of this is an dinner event that SGT (the aerospace honor society) put on with an AME professor. For two hours, about 25 of us feasted on Pasta Roma while listening to the professor recount the path he took and decisions he made to get to where he is today. In general, I feel that there are a large number of professor who enjoy the personal aspect of their jobs and embrace becoming mentors to their students.

As a graduating senior getting ready to step out into the “real world”, it is a very exciting, and in some regards an anxious/scary, time. However, I am comforted knowing that my friends, mentors, and the rest of the Trojan Family will always be there for me.