Hi there, my name is Terrence, I’m a junior from Los Angeles studying mechanical engineering at USC. On campus, I am most involved with the USC National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter in which I’m a senator. Growing up I’ve always enjoyed problem solving. I feel like the biggest part of engineering is being able to solve problems, and that’s always naturally intrigued me. Mechanical engineering emphasises problem solving, along with the aspects of technology design. The combination of those things, along with my interest in math, led me to believe that pursuing this major was something that I could really see myself doing long term.
Growing up in LA, specifically a part that has a large Black population, I never really felt homesick or really disconnected from the Black community, even while at USC. Even though I felt this way, I decided to take action and take the extra step in order to really integrate with the black community at USC. I wanted to make sure I was giving myself every opportunity to connect with those like me. I lived in Somerville, an all-Black floor in Fluor tower, during my freshman year. It was great because I always felt like I had a group of people that I could go back home to and relate to 100% regarding our experiences on campus in classes and just living in college. I’d say that was a really big help my freshman year since I felt like I had a family straight off the bat that I could relate to and grow with.
In terms of academics and career prospects, I felt pretty comfortable and confident in my abilities and networking because of my connections in NSBE. The NSBE meetings had recruiters come who were specifically looking for black engineering students. I can’t speak for every person at USC, but I’ve been able to get a lot of opportunities by being part of this NSBE chapter.
My experience on campus as a Black engineer has not been at a disadvantage whatsoever. USC Viterbi is small enough, so I feel I get the same amount of attention as everyone else. I definitely feel like some of my classmates went to schools that prepared them a lot more for the type of material that I’m being taught and tested, and that can be frustrating at times.It’s not really a matter of my race directly, but certain resources being in place that minorities did not have access to before coming to SC that’s had an impact.
Outside of academics, the culture shock that many students can experience when they move to LA didn’t happen for me since I lived 10 minutes away from campus. I’m used to all the activities, the fast pace, and all the things you can do around LA. For fun I’ve been going around the city, seeing friends, and trying to make the most out of all the opportunities nearby. I know friends who have gone to Rolling Loud and other concerts right across the street at the LA coliseum, not to mention the football games, and the Staples Center 5 minutes away for Lakers games (and Clippers if you’re a fan of that). Anything you can think of doing in a big city you can do in LA.
Overall, I feel I’ve created a really deep connection with USC. Ever since I was in elementary school as a 9 year old, I attended the Trojans Kids Camp which was a USC summer camp where I could play sports, get homework help, and learn more about the school. I naturally built a strong connection with the school to the point where it felt like a second home. Additionally, USC is a great place to be academically and culturally, and I have met some great people from all walks of life, gotten support both in and outside of the classroom, and have had a really well-rounded experience. Of course all colleges have their drawbacks, but the connection and raptor that I’ve built here has made it feel like the right place for me and has made me stay as a Trojan.