This is a guest blog entry written by Victoria Pinkett. If you want to read more stories, visit https://viterbiadmission.usc.edu/blacklives
My name is Victoria Pinkett and I am currently a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. I am from Inglewood, California. My interests are mechanical design, sustainability, data-driven modelling, robotics, ethics and how humans interact with technology. Outside of engineering, I am passionate about community building, and love to listen to music and watch movies. At USC, I am a part of the National Society of Black Engineers and Viterbi Makers.
While I am not the kind of person that always knew I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer, or even an engineer in general, I have always been interested in how things work and are developed, from CGI, cars, to phones. I also loved my 9th grade physics class and it prompted me to think about the world differently, especially with regard to forces. However, I definitely had a tough time figuring out which discipline I wanted to study in engineering, and considered many different majors from Computer Science to Chemical Engineering. I did a lot of research on how different types of engineers interacted with industries I was interested in and what I would learn in each major. As I learned more about engineering and my own interests throughout high school, I gravitated towards Mechanical Engineering.
I went to a small private school in Los Angeles and was involved in a bunch of different things, both STEM and non-STEM related. I was the president of my school’s Diversity Club, which held bi-monthly meetings surrounding current events, identity, and intersectionality. I was the starting second baseman of our softball team. I was also a founding member of a club at my school that taught science experiments to local elementary school students. I helped write a patent and CAD for a club at my school that used engineering to solve problems relevant to my school community. Additionally, I prototyped a pillow that automatically adjusts to support the user’s head and neck in different sleeping positions in a research class. Outside of school, I was a Girl Scout and received my Girl Scout Gold Award after completing a 90 hour leadership project in my community.
I ultimately decided to attend USC and Viterbi because of the community here. One of my first experiences with Viterbi students was at Viterbi Expo, an open house for prospective students. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), along with other student organizations, had a booth at the event and one of the students encouraged me to come over and learn about NSBE and USC. I was probably at that table for around 30 minutes and while I don’t remember anything we talked about, or even who I spoke with, I still remember how kind, encouraging, enthusiastic, and welcoming the members of NSBE were. That experience made it clear to me that the community at NSBE and USC was special, and I knew I could find people here that cared about me and wanted me to succeed.
Even though I spent my entire first year online, I have really enjoyed my USC experience thus far. My major classes, although challenging, have been interesting, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to do some more hands-on projects, like programming a small car using Arduino and creating a bridge in Solidworks. I am also excited for the future classes I will take. While I am glad I like my classes, my favorite part of USC so far has definitely been the clubs I have joined. A goal of mine as an incoming freshman, especially online, was to meet new people and find supportive communities. I am a part of Viterbi Makers, a Viterbi club where groups build year or semester-long electronics projects in fields such as Internet of Things, embedded systems, and robotics. Second-semester freshman year, my team built a heat press that could print designs on shirts. This club has given me hands-on experience in engineering, allowed me to work in engineering teams, and is also just an awesome and fun community. I am also a general member for USC’s NSBE chapter. One part of NSBE I’m really glad I got involved in is Sisters in STEM (SiS), a place for black female-identifying students in Viterbi. SiS holds events such as socials, and alumni and faculty and staff panels. I helped plan some of the Sisters in STEM events my second semester freshman year, which led to the opportunity for me to join the NSBE Region VI Regional Executive Board. I am the Technical OutReach and Community Help Chair, which has allowed me to give back to my community and develop leadership skills. Overall, I feel like joining clubs has helped me get acclimated to USC and smoothed the transition from high school to college. I feel so grateful for my USC communities and friends and am excited to continue growing and learning here.