Hi there! My name is Kenya Foster, and I am an undergrad senior at USC pursuing my masters through Viterbi’s Progressive Degree Program. I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri before I moved to Los Angeles after graduating high school. I had applied to USC as an Aerospace Engineer, but quickly switched to Astronautical Engineering to chase after my dream of travelling to space.
At school I serve as the President of the National Society of Black Engineers. They’re a huge part of my college experience. NSBE has sort of worked as the glue between my classes, my profession, and my life. I always have a supporting friend at NSBE, and I feel validated in my experiences. I care about this community that helped build who I am, and I am always looking to give back.
I’ve also had some on campus (and remote) research experience. My freshmen year I worked in the Combustion Propulsion Lab and did fluid analysis for a mixing chamber. Sophomore year I did research in the Assad Oberai Research lab on campus and designed plane wings for hypersonic flight. My junior year I worked on the actuation controls for a Lunar Lander at USC’s Space Engineering Research Center. This year in addition to conducting my own Aerodynamic research for Senior Design Lab, I am working with Shock Tube Designs for the CURVE Viterbi Fellowship.
”My peers have been my biggest support through it all. More than anything.
I think community is the strongest aspect of college in some ways. I think your community fuels your social health the way food fuels your body.
Even in writing this it feels gratifying to reflect on my experiences and accomplishments in my undergrad, but it should be known that I did not always feel this way. Freshman year was a difficult transition to say the least, and I didn’t perform nearly as well as I would’ve liked. At the beginning of my sophomore year, my statics professor told me I didn’t have what it took to be there, and that I should consider dropping the course. I was devastated. It was a pivotal moment in my academic career where I had to consider how badly I wanted success for myself, and if I was willing to prove that beyond my own belief. It hurt to hear that my mentor didn’t believe in me, but I didn’t let it stop me.
I really worked hard to integrate myself into the USC community, and refrained from floating through my classes without establishing connections. My peers have been my biggest support through it all. More than anything.
I think community is the strongest aspect of college in some ways. I think your community fuels your social health the way food fuels your body. What you give into your community, you will receive; so, it is important to surround yourself with people who help you grow. Trust in yourself that your capabilities that brought you here will carry you through. I understand that I am not a perfect individual, but I know that my passion belongs to me and there is nothing stopping me from achieving it. So even when Professors or individuals doubted me, I take it and nod. And then they watch me.