The USC Viterbi Freshmen Academies are designed to help you learn about the importance of engineering, the ethical implications of engineering decisions, and understand how engineers affect society, technology, history and politics.

In addition, the Freshmen Academies have “Coaches,” Viterbi upperclassmen who support and act as a resource for you during your transition to USC. Components of the program include:

  • 1 semester, 2 credit course
  • Small class size (limited to 35 students)
  • Allows for additional exposure to engineering faculty in your first semester at USC
  • The only freshman engineering class that combines engineering majors
  • Hosts distinguished guest speakers, engineering lab tours and in-class projects

All Academy Lecture Series

All students enrolled in the Freshmen Academy are provided with the opportunity to hear from professionals, innovators, researchers, and USC alumni in the engineering field through the All Academy Lecture Series. Scheduled three times this semester, you will come together for a quick dinner and interesting evening with an industry professional. You’ll have the chance to hear about their experiences and ask your own questions.

Fall 2017 Lecture Dates and Speakers

Fall 2017 Lecture Dates and Speakers

See below for speakers for this semester. All lectures are held in Bovard Auditorium at 5:30pm. As speakers are confirmed, profiles will be added to the website.

*Click on speaker names for bios as they become available 

Fall 2017 Coaches

All Academy coaches are current Viterbi Sophomores, Juniors, & Seniors in all different engineering majors. Students chosen to be mentors for Viterbi freshmen. Coaches are there to answer any questions about the course, Viterbi, USC and any other issues or challenges that you might face during your first year.

AASHKA DAMANI

Year in school as of Fall 2017: Senior

Major (and Minor): Electrical Engineering

Hometown: Bellevue, WA

High School you attended: Interlake High School

Email: adamani@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Los Angeles Community Impact, Society of Women Engineers, Research Assistant

Hobbies/interests: Watching Comedy and Dance Shows, Hiking, Exploring Los Angeles, Trying to cook and eat new foods

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Watching McCarthy Quad light up with cardinal & gold every game day
  • Exploring Griffith Park & Observatory
  • Joining an IM Volleyball team
  • Listening to the band outside Leavey during finals season

ADAM WALKER

Year in school as of Fall 2017: Junior

Major (and Minor): Biomedical Engineering (Pre-med)

Hometown: Los Angeles

High School you attended: Loyola High School

Email: adamwalk@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

Member, ASBME; WVT Rusch Engineering Honors Program; member, Archery Club

Hobbies/interests:

Hanging out with friends, playing video games, reading Game of Thrones, getting chipotle….. a lot…., playing board games with my friends, exploring LA, teaching people new things, cancer research, listening to music while doing anything and everything, writing bios

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Staying up super late hanging out with my friends on my floor
  • Being the main player for our floor-wide play through of the horror video game Until Dawn
  • Taking my newly made friends to my favorite places all around Los Angeles
  • All of the home football games
  • The looks on peoples’ faces when they tried In N Out for the first time
  • Being hyper-paranoid while playing a floor-wide game of “assassin” for three weeks and having minor PTSD afterwards

Advice for freshmen:

  • Do not be afraid to make new friends; even though it might feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t know how to approach new people, I assure you that most people are in that position at the beginning of freshman year. Just walk up to a person you want to talk to and say hi, it can’t hurt
  • Treasure your time among your dorm mates; they can grow to be some of your closest friends here at USC
  • Be yourself from the start; along the same vein of making friends, make sure to always be yourself. You’re given the chance of a new start with the advent of college, so be sure to be yourself, unabashedly
  • Go to all of your classes; even though all this new-found freedom may be a little overwhelming at first, make sure that you make it to all of your classes (no matter how early they are)
  • It’s definitely better to change your schedule during the first two weeks of classes to better fit your sleeping schedule rather than trying in vain to make your 8 a.m. classes when you have trouble falling asleep before 2 (I know that was a struggle for me until I shifted my schedule around)
  • Make use of all of the great resources that USC has for you; there are an almost uncountable number of clubs and organizations here, so try and find the ones that are right for you

ALEJANDRA FUENTES

Year:  Junior

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

High School you attended: Northside College Prep

Email: fuentesn@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • USC’s Salsa Team, Break on 2
  • Student Worker at USC Housing

Hobbies/interests:

  • Dancing
  • Cooking
  • Traveling

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • First tailgate and USC football game
  • First salsa festival in Los Angeles
  • Meeting my CED Circles Mentor

Advice for freshmen:

  • Explore extracurricular activities outside of engineering!
  • Sign up for free tickets to shows filmed in LA (like the Ellen Degeneres show)
  • Join a professional organization or a design team

ANANT CHANDRA

Year: Sophomore

Major: Computer Science

Hometown: New Delhi, India

High School you attended: Modern School Barakhamba Road

Email: anantcha@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

  • SAE Racing Team
  • Men’s Crew Team
  • Trojan Investing Society
  • Trojan Scholar Society

Hobbies/interests:

  • Social Service
  • Aquatic Sports
  • Movie Production

Favorite memory from freshmen year:

My favourite memory from freshman year was competing as a part of the Men’s Rowing Team. Waking up at 5am in college every morning was sure a welcome-to-the grind. I used to train for 3 hours and then go back to sleep. However, when I represented USC in a competition and felt Trojan pride it all felt worth it. Even though I was chosen for a single competition, I felt as though all those hours of hard work had paid off.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Freshmen year is basically to find your fit in campus
  • Be open to new avenues and opportunities
  • Grades matter, but there’s more to college than them

ANNIE REED

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Industrial and Systems Engineering with a minor in International Relations

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

High School you attended: Bloomfield Hills High School

Email: dianekre@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Officer Council Member for Society of Women Engineers, SC Outfitters Guide and Social Chair, Research Assistant for Teamcore Research Group, Swimmer and Meet Director for the USC Club Swim Team

Hobbies/interests:  Backpacking, swimming, lacrosse,  hiking, comedy, cooking, music, and really bad dance moves.

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Backpacking in Big Sur
  • Game days (specifically the UCLA game!)
  • Going to a comedy show at The Hollywood Improv
  • My first meal at Lemonade. This was a game changer.
  • Taking the train to San Diego
  • 2 AM pajama dance parties during finals week

Advice for freshmen:

  • Get involved!! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there by joining student organizations or trying something completely out of your comfort zone. This can really help you find your niche!
  • Take advantage of the resources USC has to offer. They are endless!
  • Never be afraid to ask for help. You will always be able to find a support system now that you’re a part of the Trojan Fam.
  • Strive for balance. Just because you’re an engineer doesn’t mean you can’t take a break. Make sure you do at least one super fun activity on the weekend!
  • Eat your veggies.
  • Experience Los Angeles. The greater Los Angeles area is an amazing place that has something for everyone. There are endless things to do, and you’re at the center of it all!

ASHLEY COHN

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Industrial and Systems Engineering

Hometown: Northbrook, IL

High School you attended: Glenbrook North High School

Email: cohnas@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: USG Wellness Committee, USC Math Club, Lyon Center Lifeguard, USC Women’s Club Basketball, IISE, I Am That Girl USC

Hobbies/interests: Basketball, Figure Skating, Skydiving, Swimming, Traveling, Walking dogs

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

Meeting all my new best friends that are still my best friends going into senior year. Specifically, when they attempted to plan me my first surprise birthday party before our final exams and winter break.

Advice for freshmen:

  • I encourage you to find and join a club, organization, or activity outside of Viterbi that you are passionate about.
  • The best way to find clubs, organizations, and activities you’re passionate about is to try a little bit of everything that you’re interested in!
  • Time management is key, especially if you want to be involved in a lot of activities outside of being an engineer.
  • Something I struggled with realizing was that it is 110% okay not to know what you want to do when you graduate as a freshman, but studying engineering is a great path to be on to set you up for success.

CLARE SARGENT

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Industrial and Systems Engineering (Information Systems) – Minor: Chinese for the Professions

Hometown: Kenilworth, IL (suburb north of Chicago)

High School you attended: Loyola Academy Jesuit Preparatory

Email: ccsargen@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

  • Viterbi Student Ambassador
  • Institute of Industrial Systems Engineers VP of Communications
  • Engineers Without Borders External Chair
  • Viterbi Fellows Program
  • Alpha Delta Pi member

Hobbies/interests:

  • Horse-back riding (show jumping equestrian for 12 years)
  • Music
  • Exploring Los Angeles food (I have a detailed excel sheet of food destinations based on type, miles from campus, and cost)
  • Binge watching any Shonda Rhimes show

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Anything relating to my Birnkrant floor 6 family
  • Driving to Sequoia with my best friend
  • Finally finding the right major for me
  • Hanging out with my freshman academy coach Wes all the time
  • My first Trojan football game

Advice for freshmen:

  • Be ready to fail but don’t let it make you think you can’t be an engineer
  • Call your friends from home every once and a while
  • Hangout with people, go to the events, let yourself have fun
  • Listen to your professor’s tangent stories, sometimes those teach you more than any lesson plan

COLE KURTH

Year: Senior

Major: Civil Engineering (Building Science) & PDP Structural Engineering Masters Student

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA

High School you attended: San Marcos High School

Email: colekurt@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Troy Camp, Society 53, Phi Sigma Kappa, American Society of Civil Engineers, Construction Management Association of America

Hobbies/interests: Reading, writing, photography, hanging out with friends, exploring new places, DISNEY!!!

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Going to the roof of SGM
  • Filming weird music videos with my friends in cinema
  • Going to the beach with my fraternity pledge class
  • Exploring the Arts District

Advice for freshmen:

  • Be friendly and outgoing, everyone at this school is accepting and kind, chance encounters with genuine people will always make your day brighter
  • Try to join a group on campus, the community they build is always strong
  • Talk to your professors, they’re people too! They want to help!
  • Be yourself! You’re here for a reason, be you, not the person others want you to be

COURTNEY VU

Year: Senior

Major: Computer Science and Business Administration

Hometown: Issaquah, WA

High School you attended: Issaquah High School

Email: courtnev@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Admission Center – Tour Guide, Past Orientation Advisor, Society of Women Engineers, Joint Education Project

Hobbies/interests: Eating, napping, watching Netflix, board game nights, exploring the city

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • USC football games
  • Becoming best friends with my suitemates
  • Random dance parties in the suite
  • Cheering on the Seahawks in the dining hall
  • Being on stage for the Radio Disney Award Show

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help
  • Try new things and take advantage of what USC has to offer
  • It’s okay to move at your own pace when settling in at USC!

DANIEL DONCHEV

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Biomedical Engineering (Electrical), Minor: Computer Programming

Hometown: Long Beach, CA

High School you attended: Long Beach Wilson Classical High School

Email: donchev@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

Currently, I am a committee lead for Spark SC, USC’s premier hub for student-driven entrepreneurship that connects makers across diverse communities through a culture of innovation. Additionally, I am the Community Chair for the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering, the student run undergraduate and graduate biomedical engineering organization at USC that serves the engineering student body through academic, social, and corporate events. I am a member of the Viterbi Student Alumni Mentoring Program that matches student participants with alumni who are currently working in the industry. Lastly, I am a member of Undergraduate Student Government: Academic Affairs, a committee that focuses on any issues pertaining to academic life on campus.

Hobbies/interests:

During my spare time, I enjoy playing classical/rock/ ensemble guitar music as well as having jam sessions with friends. I am an avid Lakers and Kobe Bryant fan and I am a fierce sports competitor. I love listening to Pentatonix, Maroon 5, and Simon & Garfunkel. I have a passion for entrepreneurship and laboratory research. Another hobby of mine is traveling with family and friends!

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • As a member of Spark SC, I helped coordinate the bi-annual Startup Career Fair that connects the top startups in the LA area to our immensely talented student body with the goal of providing opportunities for summer internships, jobs, and networking.
  • As a part of a committee in Spark SC, I assisted with the coordination a 3-day summer conference held in San Francisco that will bring together entrepreneurial leaders from 7 of the country’s best universities to begin forming a collaborative national student-entrepreneurship community.
  • Attending the annual corporate dinner arranged by ASBME and getting to learn more about the field of biomedical engineering while interacting with current professionals in the industry was a very worthwhile experience that provided me much needed insight on my major.
  • As a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, I helped plan a puppy-destress event that rewarded all students who completed their course evaluations with the opportunity to play with puppies!
  • Teaching an engaging and interactive lesson at a local USC magnet school as a part of ASBME with the purpose of inspiring and making children aware of the positive impact biomedical engineering has on our society.
  • Attending my first USC basketball game, a wild and exhilarating quadruple overtime thriller that had the student section standing on their feet for more than two hours!
  • Getting involved and meeting incredibly diverse and gifted groups of individuals while forming meaningful friendships along the way was by far the most impactful highlight of my freshman year.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Find people who you enjoy being around, individuals who inspire you and constantly push you to reach your potential.
  • Try to find one or more ways to have a significant and active role on campus because those types of experience will define your college experience and allow you to grow as a person.
  • Manage your time wisely and find a balance between academics and other activities.
  • Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, meet new people and learn from the unique advice and experiences they have to offer (especially upperclassmen).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! USC has a phenomenal support system that can alleviate a lot of the problems you may encounter.
  • Attend the plethora of events that take place on and around campus. LA has a lot to offer, so make the most of it while you are here!

EMILY PALMER

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Chemical Engineering (Sustainable Energy)

Hometown: Buffalo, NY

High School you attended: Williamsville North

Email: emilypal@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Alternative Spring Break Program Coordinator, Environmental Student Assembly Co-Executive Director

Hobbies/interests: Hiking, kayaking, camping, backpacking, late night TV, bass guitar, Frisbee, coffee consumption

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Seeing the Pixies at the Hollywood Bowl and Matt & Kim at Ameoba Records
  • Working on Environmental Core’s anti-acidization campaign
  • Kayaked in Long Beach Canals
  • Camped and went to Hot Springs in the Kern Mountain area
  • Northrop Grumman mentorship and tour of Hubble telescope

Advice for freshmen:

  • Explore different subjects, classes, and extracurriculars to find your true passions and interests
  • Find a few key things to get involved with on campus that will make your stay at USC extra worthwhile
  • Make friends who value you for you
  • Go off-campus, explore LA, and the surrounding national parks
  • Talk to professors after class and in office hours

HOLLY HUBER

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Biomedical Engineering w/mechanical engineering emphasis; narrative structure minor

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

High School you attended: Mariemont High School

Email: hhuber@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

The Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering(President); Office Assistant at Marshall’s Center for Effective Organizations; Research Assistant at Dr. McCain’s Living System’s Laboratory; Tau Beta Pi; Viterbi Study Abroad in Madrid, Spain; Mortar Board

Hobbies/interests: piano, football (Cincinnati Bengals and of course USC Trojans!), Miyazaki movies

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • -Dancing to Iggy Azalea’s Black Widow in Leavey Library at 2 AM
  • Getting thrown up into the air for touchdown on first gameday!
  • Running to EVK for final cereal of the night before closing
  • Trojan Hall Lobby Crew
  • Organizing Bionic Pig Race for Viterbi’s Engineering Week
  • Live Action Scooby Doo movie marathon
  • Realizing the impact my freshman year had on me: I decided to stay in SoCal the summer after my freshman year to do research, something I’d never imagined doing back in High School!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Get out of your room!
  • Reach out to others, even if you don’t know them that well
  • Stay healthy: get sleep, eat well, exercise
  • Make time for school work, especially if grad school is something you might be considering in the future
  • Find an organization, cause, research, hobby you are passionate about and dedicate time to it
  • Find mentors in your major

JACK CAGNEY

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Industrial and Systems Engineering (Operations); Consumer Behavior and Public Health minors

Hometown: Allendale, NJ

High School you attended: Northern Highlands Regional High School

Email: jcagney@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Tour Guide for the USC Admission Center, Soccer Coach for the Trojan Youth Soccer League, Leadership Chair for Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life

Hobbies/interests: Hiking, eating my way through Los Angeles, late night chats with friends, dog watching, going to the beach/playing beach volleyball, memes

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Conquest / Gamedays
  • Wisdom Tree hike with a club
  • Spontaneous beach volleyball tournament with my floormates
  • Staying up until 3 am the first day of school talking to my floormates, getting to know who they were, eating chips, and playing music
  • Going to Little Tokyo for ramen with my floor
  • Getting hired as a tour guide!
  • Having my family visit me on Trojan Family Weekend
  • Getting accepted to my study abroad program
  • Movie nights every day during spring break with friends
  • Scavenger hunt throughout DTLA

Advice for freshmen:

  • Meet as many people as you can your first few weeks of school
  • Focus on your school work, but don’t stress too much! Make sure you still make time for fun and friends
  • Try something new every chance you get (say “yes” to those spontaneous trips)!
  • Sit down next to someone you don’t know in your class and say hi! Who knows, maybe they’ll end up being your best friend.
  • Join different clubs! It’s a great way to meet people and get involved
  • Buy a football season pass
  • Keep in touch with your friends from high school
  • Call your parents!!
  • Don’t worry too much about the distance future; focus on what’s coming next
  • If you apply to something (club, organization, internship) and don’t get it, don’t be discouraged. Everything happens for a reason
  • Take a fun class whenever you can!

JENNIFER ANTHONY

Year: Junior

Major: Computer Science and Business Administration

Hometown: Belmont, CA

High School you attended: Carlmont High School

Email: anth595@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

  • Women In Engineering Advisory Board
  • Scholarship Committee for the Alpha Phi Sorority
  • Internal Social Chair for the Alpha Phi Sorority
  • Joint Educational Program
  • Lemonade Day

Hobbies/interests: Hiking, music, jigsaw puzzles, food!

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Having a roommate for the first time and meeting all the new people in my dorm/residential college
  • Gamedays
  • The Weekender at Cal
  • My GESM. Because the class was so small and we discussed such controversial but important topics, we all got really close.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take one day at a time. School can seem really stressful and overwhelming but don’t let it get to you. Mental health is so important! Take care of yourself and your body
    • Eat!!!
    • Sleep!!!
  • It is okay to do poorly in a class. As long as you’re putting in 100% effort, there is no need to worry. Some classes are meant to be extremely difficult.
  • Everyone is here to meet people! Take advantage of Freshman year when everyone is still really excited about meeting people and put yourself out there.
  • Get involved on campus. There are so many clubs at USC and so many opportunities to be a part of something. Not only is it a great way to meet people, but it is a great way to feel more like part of the community.
  • There is no harm in interviewing. Don’t let the competitive nature of a club or team keep you from applying. The more experience the better, no matter what the outcome is.

JULIA SIRCAR

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Industrial & Systems Engineering (Operations), minors in Spanish and Computer Digital Forensics

Hometown: Coppell, Texas

High School you attended: Coppell High School

Email: jsircar@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Engineering without Borders International Project, USC Robogals, Alternative Spring Break Program

Hobbies/interests: Running, playing piano, skiing, Major League Baseball

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • trying an acai bowl for the first time
  • living with 7 other girls that instantly became my best friends
  • going on a volunteer trip to Louisiana and exploring New Orleans during Spring Break
  • making friends and having fun in Engineering Freshmen Academy class!
  • going to USC football games! fight on!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Sign up for/apply for/go to informational meetings for everything during the first few weeks! Don’t limit yourself by choosing one or two clubs during the first week, but instead investigate multiple so that you have options once you delve deeper into them.
  • Use your major’s intro class to make friends, study groups, and connections with your peers for the rest of college…developing relationships with people in the same major pays off!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask upperclassmen whom you meet questions about Viterbi, USC, or college in general! They were all in the same position as you.
  • Look ahead! If you have an idea of a second major, minor, or emphasis you might want to declare, start doing research and planning during your first year. Talk to your advisor and come up with a plan as early as possible so that you can be best prepared!

MARIA BACCI

Year: Senior

Major: Chemical Engineering (Polymers/Materials Science)

Hometown: Orlando, FL

High School you attended: Oviedo High School

Email: bacci@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

  • Viterbi Student Ambassador
  • Research Assistant
  • Women and Youth Supporting Each Other
  • Queers in Engineering, Science, and Technology

Hobbies/interests: Hiking, beach, reading

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • My first time walking on campus during a tailgate and seeing campus completely transformed
  • Sitting on the roof of a parking lot with my freshman year dorm and looking out at the LA skyline while people played instruments
  • Crashing my longboard for the first time and completely faceplanting

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take time for yourself.
  • Give yourself an adjustment period and realize that even if it seems like everyone else has way more friends and way more involvements that you’re probably fine.
  • ASK FOR HELP! From professors, teachers, upperclassmen, whoever… You’re an incredibly bright and talented person and a lot of problems in college can be fixed by good advice.
  • It’s okay to fail, and no one is expecting you to be perfect. Try to admit your mistakes, and people will be much more understanding in the long run.

MARK REINHARDT

Year: Senior

Major: Industrial and Systems Engineering, Minor: Business Finance

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

High School you attended: Sycamore High School

Email: mareinha@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Los Angeles Community Impact (LACI), Club Golf (Co-President), Mortar Board, Club Lacrosse

Hobbies/interests: Golf, Lacrosse, Sports in general, hiking, beach days, reading, analytics, music

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • GAMEDAYS
  • Playing lacrosse in the coliseum
  • Eating two dinners at dining halls
  • Adventuring with my roommates

Advice for freshmen:

  • Get involved early and often
  • Think about next year’s housing late in first semester or early in second semester
  • Plan your future schedules to include studying abroad
  • Take at least a couple interesting GE’s (not just to fit your schedule)
  • Make friends with people who have cars
  • Enjoy yourself!

MICHAEL MORIKADO

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Biomedical engineering (biochemical engineering emphasis), minor in Spanish

Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL

High School you attended: Prospect High School

Email: morikado@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Kuhn-Hicks lab undergraduate research, Engineers Without Borders, Theta Tau

Hobbies/interests: swimming, hiking, watching sports, board games, traveling, eating new foods

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Weekender trip to Berkeley and San Francisco
  • Lab retreat in La Jolla
  • Eating great food with friends

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things on campus
  • Pursue you interests in the classroom and activities
  • Explore LA
  • Use campus resources

MICHELLE ZHONG

Year: Senior

Major: Electrical Engineering

Hometown: Orlando, FL

High School you attended: Seminole High School

Email: zhongm@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: I’m a Viterbi Student Ambassador, and I’m a part of the Society of Women Engineers and Trojan Scholars Society. In addition, I love to spend my time playing tennis, so I’m also a part of the Trojan Tennis Club! I’m also a part time intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Avionics Integration and Testing group of the Europa Clipper mission.

Hobbies/interests: Playing tennis, Eating at delicious restaurants, Traveling, Jumping rope, Trying to do yoga (correctly), Going to concerts, Watching Scandal

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Seeing Demi Lovato, Christina Perri, and MKTO at the Staples Center
  • Going to a Yacht Social with the Society of Women Engineers
  • Exploring LA and riding bikes along the beach with friends over Thanksgiving Break
  • Seeing Wicked at The Pantages in Hollywood
  • Going on an impromptu day trip to San Diego
  • Hearing Former President Bill Clinton speak at Bovard

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your professors for help! They’re amazing and more than willing to help, so take advantage of those office hours.
  • Los Angeles has so much to offer, so grab some friends and explore!
  • Learning how to balance school and life is crucial, so practice time management…it’ll be worth it!
  • It’s never too early to think about your future career, so make the most of the career events around campus, and start building a network!
  • Health is important, so put down those cup noodles and eat some veggies once in a while! 🙂

NATALIE HELMS

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Chemical Engineering (Biochemical); Organizational Leadership and Management

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

High School you attended: Convent of the Sacred Heart

Email: nhelms@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: I am an active member of the sorority Delta Delta Delta as well as involved with Engineer’s Without Borders (EWB). For three semesters I served as the Health and Safety Officer for EWB’s international project in Guatemala. 

Hobbies/interests: My favorite things to do involve music, whether it’s listening to music with friends, going to shows, or playing guitar and singing on my own. I love boxing and swimming as workouts along with hiking and many outdoor activities. I also enjoy travelling.

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Being one of the two proud Trojans on a UCLA (boo) frat bus to the USC/UCLA rivalry game.
  • Meeting my big in Disneyland with my sorority.

Advice for freshmen:

  • This sounds cliché but don’t be afraid to be yourself! USC is so diverse that no matter what you are sure to find people who share your interests and beliefs.
  • Don’t worry too much about grades, just like applying to colleges, applying to jobs is about so much more than your GPA. But also don’t worry about applying to jobs yet!
  • Everything is going to be great, you got into USC Viterbi for a reason!

NATALIE MONGER

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Computer Science and Business Administration with a Minor in Dance

Hometown: Dallas, TX

High School you attended: Episcopal School of Dallas

Email: monger@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

Undergraduate Research Assistant, USC Institute for Creative Technologies Vision and Graphics Lab under Dr. Hao Li

Off-Campus Orientation Leader

Hobbies/interests:

  • Dance: Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, Hip-Hop
  • Boating, fishing, and hiking at the lake
  • Scrapbooking

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Viterbi Luau—this casual and festive event during the first week of school was a great opportunity to meet my new Viterbi classmates over fun games and great food.
  • Performing a fun Jazz dance in the USC Kaufman showcase—I loved sharing the stage with my fellow dance minors and performing for my friends and dance mentors and professors.
  • A fulfilling service weekend in San Diego with great friends—we cleaned up some campgrounds and painted an entire cabin.
  • My first USC football game—the Trojan family makes you feel so welcome, even as a new freshman.
  • Exploring different California beaches and roller-skating down the boardwalk—exploring California on the weekends is one of the best parts of going to school at USC.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take advantage of your Freshmen Academy course—some of my greatest connections came from this class!
  • Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone or try new things. USC has so many opportunities for you, but it’s your job to put yourself out there and take advantage of these.
  • Try not to feel overwhelmed with the thousands of student organizations and daily events. Attend meetings for as many clubs as you can freshman year to see what you like and where you feel you’ll thrive intellectually and socially, and then, as you get older, you should pick one or two of your favorites and pursue a leadership position.
  • Get sleep. No matter how much work you have, one all-nighter is not worth the consequences that follow.
  • Experience the arts on campus! Each week, there are many dance, theater, and visual arts shows on campus hosted by Visions and Voices and various major programs at USC.

NATHAN ALVAREZ

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Mechanical Engineering (Performance Science Minor)

Hometown: Goleta, CA

High School you attended: Dos Pueblos High School

Email: nmalvare@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: USC LavaLab, Research Assistant in Interaction Robotics Lab, 2017/2018 RA in New North, Library Assistant (not next year), Greek Life

Hobbies/interests: Running, hiking, camping, going to the beach, traveling, watching football and basketball, reading

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Camping with friends and SC Outfitters
  • Going to concerts around LA
  • Pitching LavaLab final project

Advice for freshmen:

  • Get involved, but only with what actually interests you
  • Don’t feel obliged to join organizations just for your resume
  • Explore the LA area as much as you can
  • Meet as many people as possible the first month of school
  • Get to know your professors

OLIVIA PEARSON

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Environmental Engineering, BS; Theatre Minor

Hometown: Oakhurst, CA

High School you attended: Yosemite High School

Email: opearson@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Co-Director of Environmental Student Assembly, Campaign Lead of Environmental Core, ESA Liaison for American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, Robogals, American Society of Civil Engineers, House Manager at Trojan Event Services

Hobbies/interests: Knitting and crocheting, hiking/backpacking/camping, surfing, swimming, yoga, gardening

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Going to the UCLA football game and winning! Fight on!
  • Going to the Getty Villa with my friends
  • Being in Kelly Sander’s Intro to Environmental Engineering Class and taking a tour of the Parkside Garden

Advice for freshmen:

  • Find a way to organize your time so that you can get all your classwork done in a timely manner, AKA, don’t procrastinate! Try using your Google or Mac calendar, a planner, or bullet journaling.
  • In the first few weeks of school try out a bunch of different clubs, go to a few meetings, and then narrow down the ones you really want to get involved in. Don’t overextend yourself, or you will burnout!
  • Take PE classes! They’re only one unit, super fun, and a good way to motivate you to work out so you don’t get that Freshman 15! Or make an IM team with your friends!
  • Take advantage of different study abroad opportunities! There are so many different ways to go abroad without going for a whole semester, like Engineers Without Borders, Problems Without Passports, Maymester classes, and Viterbi Summer Abroad.

PATRICK MACIAS

Year: Senior (Yikes!)

Major & Minor: Industrial and Systems Engineering

Hometown: Roseville, CA

High School you attended: Oakmont High School

Email: pmacias@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Trojan Knights, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Mortar Board, Troy Camp, Orientation Advisor

Hobbies/interests: Napping, Running around USC, Eating fried eggs, Watching House of Cards

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Exploring Downtown LA
  • My first football game
  • Hiking through LA

Advice for freshmen:

  • Try everything!
  • It’s okay to feel overwhelmed
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new

PETER ROBERSON

Year: 

Major & Minor: 

Hometown: 

High School you attended: 

Email: proberso@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Hobbies/interests: 

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

Advice for freshmen:

REBECCA THOSS

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Chemical Engineering- Emphasis in Nanotechnology, Minoring in Economics

Hometown: Orland Park, IL

High School you attended: Carl Sandberg High School

Email: thoss@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:  M.C. Gill Composites Center Research Assistant, Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, Viterbi Conversations in Ethics, Order of Omega Greek Honors Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Society of Women Engineers

Hobbies/interests: going to the beach, traveling, practicing yoga, exploring Los Angeles, going to concerts, reading for fun, eating dessert

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Touring the Coliseum during orientation and learning the student cheers
  • Going to In N’ Out for the first time and trying an Animal Style burger
  • Joining Greek Life
  • Midnight breakfast at EVK during finals
  • Tailgating before and attending my first USC football game
  • Ice skating at LA Live during the holidays with friends from my dorm floor

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take advantage of all opportunities- say yes to last minute adventures and be open to new experiences
  • Get involved- join as many clubs as you’d like at first and then see which ones you’re passionate about and want to get more involved in
  • Know when to ask for help- don’t be afraid to go to office hours or VARC tutoring for help
  • Introduce yourself to your professors- relationships with professors will be invaluable throughout your time at USC

SARAH MILKOWSKI

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Biomedical Engineering (Premed)

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

High School you attended: York Community High School

Email: milkowsk@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Undergraduate Researcher in Chung Lab, Resident Assistant, USC Women’s Club Ice Hockey Team, Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering (ASBME), 3D4E

Hobbies/interests: Watching and playing sports, Hiking, watching Grey’s Anatomy, photography, working out, cooking (even though I’m awful)

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Making new friends Welcome Week
  • Game Days
  • Hockey Tournament in Vegas
  • Going on new hikes or running at the beach

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things but always stay true to yourself
  • Talk to random people to make friends! Everyone is in the same awkward boat
  • Find a balance between work and social life, both can be equally important.
  • GET INVOLVED
  • Use the resources available to you

SHANA DOUGLASS

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Coronado, CA

High School you attended: Coronado High School

Email: smdougla@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Viterbi Student Ambassadors, National Society of Black Engineers

Hobbies/interests:

  • Going to concerts and festivals around SC
  • Hitting the beach with friends to tan and play volleyball
  • Taking swim class on campus

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Waking up on my first game day and seeing cardinal and gold covering the quad and outside my dorm.
  • Having big brunches on Saturday and Sundays in EVK with my closest girl friends to recap the weekend.
  • Attending my first yard show and seeing the divine nine sororities and fraternities.
  • Attending NSBE conference and being surrounded by excellence, as well as landing my first internship with Visa.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Join a professional organization in Viterbi. It will help you get plugged in to Viterbi and possibly land your first internship.
  • Make older friends (especially ones in your major or that have taken similar classes). Their advice on what professors to take, what courses are gonna be the hardest etc. will prove invaluable.
  • Get involved! Having free time to take naps in between classes will be tempting, but you may lose your motivation. Stay active whether that be in clubs, getting off campus, hanging with friends, and even excericsing. I promise you will enjoy college much more.

SIENA APPLEBAUM

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA

High School you attended: Dos Pueblos High School

Email: ssappleb@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: Research Assistant at USC Combustion Lab, Math mentor through JEP, Engineers without Borders, Gamma Phi Beta social sorority

Hobbies/interests: Hiking, camping, playing tennis and exploring LA.

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Hanging out/studying with my friends in my dorm late at night
  • The 3D4E camping retreat
  • Doing homework on the grass outside BK on sunny days
  • Escape room in LA

Advice for freshmen:

  • Be friendly and meet people! Especially at the beginning of the year everyone is so eager to meet people and make friends! Take advantage of that time.
  • Don’t feel like you have to do everything. Ultimately, it’s better to just find a couple things you really like and do them well. That being said, in order to find those things, try out as many activities as you can but just stick with the activities you really enjoy.
  • Don’t feel pressured to find your place and do everything in your first semester at USC. Remember that the activities you were involved with freshmen year in high school probably were not what made your high school experience.
  • If you’re struggling in a class recognize that and do something about it early. Start going to SI sessions, the writing center, Viterbi tutoring or form a study group with classmates. USC has so many helpful resources to take advantage of, but there’s not much they can do if you wait until a week before finals.

TIMMY MALANEY

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Computer Science

Hometown: Howard County, Maryland

High School you attended: Marriotts Ridge High School

Email: tmalaney@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: LavaLab (Startup Incubator), ScopeSC

Hobbies/interests: Climbing, Swimming, Reading

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • The Berkeley weekender football game
  • Meeting my roommate
  • Taking my parents to a USC tailgate

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take any GE with the word ‘film’ in its name!
  • Get off of campus as often as possible
  • Think about your sophomore year roommate situation early

TONY ELEVATHINGAL

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Computer Engineering & Computer Science, Minor: Cinematic Arts

Hometown: Issaquah, WA

High School you attended: Skyline High School

Email: elevathi@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: LavaLab (start-up/product incubation club), Viterbi Impact Program, Theta Tau (Professional Engineering Fraternity), Student Research

Hobbies/interests: Watching movies, travelling, listening to music, comedy

Favorite memories from freshmen year:

  • Santa Monica with my floormates
  • Going to a comedy show at the Hollywood Improv
  • Many movie nights at L.A. Live
  • Any experience with the awesome people on my floor!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Meet as many people as you can, as early as you can – it’s a lot easier to meet people at the beginning of the year, because they aren’t as busy. Form connections and friendships before people get bogged down with schoolwork!
  • Don’t feel like you need to join every single club on the first day. While you should absolutely explore your interests and not be afraid to find out what you’re passionate about through the many clubs/activities here, just make sure you give yourself room to breathe along the way.
  • Make sure you get away from campus and explore L.A. once in a while! There’s so much to see and do in the city, and it can be easy to miss when you get caught up with school.