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 2018 Lecture Dates and Speakers

Fall 2018 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.

  • Lecture #1: Yannis Yortsos, Dean of USC Viterbi School of Engineering, September 4
  • Lecture #2: Garrett Reisman, Professor at USC, Former NASA Astronaut and SpaceX Director of Space Operations, October 30
  • Lecture #3: Megan Smith, CEO shift7; 3rd United States Chief Technology Officer, November 13 

Fall 2018 Coaches

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

ADAM WALKER

Year: Senior

Major: 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:

Freshman Academy, Medesign, Intern at CHLA in a Cerebrospinal Spinal Fluid lab (under USC faculty), Entrepreneurship competitions.

Hobbies/interests:

Exploring LA with friends, Video games, Reading, Origami.

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:  Senior

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 (SHPE), Center for Engineering (CED) Student Advisory Board, CED Mentor, Break on 2 Salsa Team

Hobbies/interests:

Rock climbing, social dancing, swimming, and eating!

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

ALIYAH ARUNSALAM

Year:  Senior

Major: Biomedical Engineering, PDP: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Apple Valley, CA

High School you attended: Granite Hills High School

Email: arunasal@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

MEDesign, Chabad of USC, Biomechanics Injury Research Lab, Barre Instruction at the Lyon Center

Hobbies/interests:

Dancing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Cooking, Whining When appropriate), Puzzling

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Going to Zumba with my roommate
  • The Kaufman dance showcase
  • Suite Wars with a suite on the floor below us
  • Purim at the Chabad House

Advice for freshmen:

  • College is full of many people with totally different life experiences and outlooks. Stay true to who you are: everyone at USC will love and appreciate you for your uniqueness. There is never a reason to be self-conscious.
  • Appreciate those differences between you and your friends just like you want them to appreciate yours. Now is your chance to experience different cultures and break out of your comfort zone.
  • Use the Trojan family! USC does an amazing job of choosing students who genuinely want to help instead of compete with each other, and this culture extends to the professors and alumni. Meet as many people as you can, you never know where your job offer is going to come from! 😉

ANNIE REED

Year: Senior

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 freshman 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!

CELESTE GOODWIN

Year: Junior

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: San Pedro, CA

High School you attended: California Academy of Math and Science

Email: cgoodwin@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Troy Camp, 3D4E, Viterbi Student Ambassadors

Hobbies/interests:  

Snowboarding, hiking, scuba diving, interested in education and clean energy!

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Waking up to the Fight Song being played very loudly in my dorm on the first game day
  • Going to the UCLA/USC game at UCLA
  • Renting an Airbnb with my friends in Santa Barbara and going on a road trip
  • Taking selfies with President Nikias on move-in day!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to try something new, whether it’s a new type of club or a new food at the dining hall!
  • The Metro is always there for you. Take weekend trips to Santa Monica or Downtown for cheap!
  • Try not to compare your high school self to your newly college self. Grades, friend groups, and involvements will change as you grow into your new you!

CLARE SARGENT

Year: Senior

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: 

Engineers Without Borders, USC Panhellenic Council, USC Alpha Delta Pi, Viterbi Fellows Program, Order of Omega

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 freshman 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

DANIEL DONCHEV

Year: Senior

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 on the executive board of 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 Vice President 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 Viterbi Student Ambassador; I inform prospective and incoming students about life at USC through blogs, videos, live chats, podcast episodes, and student panels.

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 fan and I constantly crave competition. I love listening to Pentatonix, Maroon 5, and Simon & Garfunkel. I have a passion for igniting a spirit of innovation on campus. Another hobby of mine is traveling with family and friends!

Favorite memories from freshman 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!

DIANA LAFOLLETTE

Year: Sophomore

Major: Chemical Engineering: Sustainable Energy

Hometown: Destin, FL

High School you attended: Niceville High School

Email: dlafolle@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Alpha Chi Omega, Marathon Team (soon to be running club), Coaching Corps

Hobbies/interests: 

Running, photography, the beach, trying new foods

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Standing in line for 10 hours to meet Buddy Valastro (Cake Boss)
  • Big Little Reveal for Alpha Chi Omega
  • The 2017 Texas v USC football game

Advice for freshmen:

  • You have time to do things other than homework, use it wisely.
  • It is okay to quit something if you don’t like doing it
  • Everyone gets lonely and thinks college is hard, talking to your friends about it will make everyone feel better.

DOMINIE MIYASATO

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Biomedical Engineering, minor in Classical Perspectives

Hometown: Maui, HI

High School you attended: Punahou School

Email: dmiyasat@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

Society of Women Engineers, Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering, MEDesign team, biomedical research in Zavaleta Lab

Hobbies/interests:

Exploring LA’s eateries, hiking, going to the beach, traveling!

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Attending all home football games
  • Driving out to Joshua Tree to stargaze
  • Shopping at Santa Monica
  • Eating KBBQ with friends for my birthday
  • Going to see Blackbear and Fall Out Boy perform at the LA Forum
  • Participating in ASBME’s Makeathon
  • Hiking the Los Liones Canyon Trailhead

Advice for freshmen:

  • Go to professor office hours to get help on homework or just talk to them about their research/career. You never know when you’ll need a letter of recommendation!
  • Seek out advice from upperclassmen. They are extremely helpful in choosing classes or deciding what to do for summers!
  • Yes, your grades are important, but don’t forget about all the other opportunities USC has to offer…student organizations, events with guest speakers, football games, etc!

ELISE ADREON

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Industrial & Systems Engineering, Business Minor

Hometown: Evergreen, CO

High School you attended: Evergreen High School

Email: adreon@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Alpha Phi Sorority, Society of Women Engineers, Dance Marathon Planning Committee

Hobbies/interests:

Hiking, skiing, Netflix

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Beating Stanford… twice 🙂

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Make friends in your classes (engineers are cool!)
  • Remember that everyone is going through the exact same thing

GABRIEL BOEBEL

Year: Senior

Major: Environmental Engineering

Hometown: Batavia, IL

High School you attended: Aurora Central Catholic High School

Email: boebel@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

Air Force ROTC

Hobbies/interests:

Running and listening to music

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Wandering into open buildings on campus at 1 in the morning just for fun.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take advantage of every opportunity.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • Be yourself.

 

HOLLY HUBER

Year: Senior in standing, Super Senior/child at heart

Major & Minor: Biomedical Engineering (Mechanical Engineering), Minor in Narrative Structure

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

High School you attended: Mariemont

Email: hhuber@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

The Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering, JEP, Marshall’s Center for Effective Organizations, Laboratory of Living Systems Engineering

Hobbies/interests: 

Animated movies, piano, exploring k-town, medical devices

Favorite memories from freshman 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:

  • Find a hobby outside of school to nurture throughout the next 4 years
  • Greet everyone freshman year, get to know as many people as possible
  • Surround yourself with friends and mentors you admire/aspire to emulate
  • Make mistakes, and be kind to yourself when you do

BELLA SMITH

Year: Senior

Major & Minor: Industrial & Systems Engineering, Minor in Screenwriting

Hometown: Bayonne, NJ

High School you attended: Kent Place School

Email: isabells@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Undergraduate Student Government, USC Figure Skating, Theta Tau, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Alpha Chi Omega, SWE, IISE, Lifeguard at the Lyon Center

Hobbies/interests: 

Reading, going to the beach, swimming, going to workout classes, going to concerts

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Having study groups turn into some of my best friends
  • Always having bike trouble but having friends there to help me fix things

Advice for freshmen:

  • Stop and enjoy the moment because your 4 years will go way too fast
  • Join every club and then narrow down what you want to do
  • Watch out for bikes on Trousdale

JACK CAGNEY

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Industrial and Systems Engineering (Operations); Public Health minor

Hometown: Allendale, NJ

High School you attended: Northern Highlands Regional High School

Email: jcagney@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Troy Camp, USC Tour Guide, Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life, Freshman Academy Coach, Research Assistant for USC Dornsife Health and Society Lab, Global Fellows/Study Abroad

Hobbies/interests:

Hiking and trying new restaurants throughout Los Angeles

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Joining the Admission Center and giving my first tour
  • Going to the UCLA Game
  • Studying abroad/interning in London
  • When the Starbucks barista at TroGro learned my name and order

Advice for freshmen:

  • Meet as many people as you can in your first few weeks! You never know what types of relationships you might make just by saying “hello!”
  • Try something out of your comfort zone – you won’t regret it!
  • Study…Sounds easy, but remember that college isn’t like high school. Establish your study habits as soon as you can!

JENNA WAHBEH

Year: Senior

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Ross, CA

High School you attended: Redwood High School

Email: jmwahbeh@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

BIR lab, Cycling instructor, 1000 Dreams Fund, Gamma Phi Beta

Hobbies/interests:

Hiking, sailing, cooking, cycling, traveling, doing puzzles, and watching Netflix

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • My first weekend spending time with my suite-mates and getting to know them! We spent the whole night talking and, over the course of the year, became closer than I could have ever imagined.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take advantage of being in LA! There are so many cool restaurants, museums, and things to do and four years go by really fast so when you have a chance go explore!
  • Surround yourself with people who make you happy. These friends will be around for the long haul and find people who challenge you, celebrate you, and will be there for you.
  • Don’t take things too seriously, college is a fun time you just have to let yourself relax and have fun!

JENNIFER ANTHONY

Year: Senior

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
  • Course Producer for CSCI 201

Hobbies/interests: 

Baseball, jigsaw puzzles, travel

Favorite memories from freshman 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 MORELLI

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Biomedical Engineering, Minor in Health Care Studies

Hometown: Park City, UT

High School you attended: Park City High School

Email: jemorell@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Camp Kesem, SWE, Vision for Vision, Varsity Tutors, Tri Delta sorority

Hobbies/interests: 

Hiking, hammocking, camping, watching movies, going to music concerts/festivals, brunch

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Going to concerts

Advice for freshmen:

  • Join as many clubs as you want, as you go through your year you’ll start realizing which ones your super passionate about and want to continue. But, on the same note, don’t get bummed if you don’t find any that you’re super interested in right away- go online and look at the list of them.
  • Don’t forget to stay in touch with family and friends back home, they miss you!
  • Use the first 2 weeks of school to your advantage with meeting people. Just introduce yourself to everyone and anyone- everyone is in the same boat and wants to make new friends.

JULIA SIRCAR

Year: Junior

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 freshman 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!

KENDA FINCH

Year: Sophomore

Major: Civil Engineering (Environmental)

Hometown: Richmond, CA

High School you attended: Albany High School

Email: kendafin@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

ASCE

Hobbies/interests: 

Reading, hiking baking.

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Gamedays and tailgating before.
  • Especially the UCLA game when it seemed like everyone was out and going to the game.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Make time to do things you enjoy
  • Figure out how you study the best
  • Give yourself time to adjust to the change of going to college

LONG NGUYEN

Year: Junior

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Santa Ana, CA

High School you attended: Santa Ana Valley High School

Email: lgnguyen@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

SC Solar Car, First Generation Mentor Program, Questbridge Scholars Program, Theta Tau (Professional Engineering Fraternity)

Hobbies/interests: 

Tennis, Soccer, Board games, Video games, Card games

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Going to the Rose Bowl Stadium to watch USC defeat UCLA in football
  • Doing AME homework with my best friends in a study lounge late at night
  • Eating Korean barbecue for the first time in Koreatown
  • Making new friends everywhere!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to go to office hours and ask for help! The professors and TA’s at USC are always happy when students come in.
  • Tackle your fears. Join that club or organization that you have always wanted to do but have always been scared to.
  • Remember to stay active and eat healthy! The freshman 15 is way too real.
  • Definitely stay as organized as you can. It becomes hard balancing and keeping track of your academics as well as your social life, keeping track of everything makes it so much easier!

LUZ CAMACHO

Year: Sophomore

Major: Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Hometown: Bell Gardens, CA

High School you attended: Bell Gardens High School

Email: luzcamac@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

Hobbies/interests: 

Video games, volunteering at animal rescues, and concerts!

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • The time a couple of friends and I took the day off to go to Corgi Beach Day (essentially corgis from all of SoCal gather on the same beach and have really cute events). After we had all walked along the beach and took some really nice, memorable photos and had dinner at a nice diner!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Professors are not nearly as scary as you think they might be. Don’t be intimidated! Go to office hours!
  • Use a planner or apps like Google Calendar to keep track of deadlines. You’ll be surprised as to how many things there are to keep track of: from homework to office hours to even just events that are happening on campus that you want to attend.
  • If you have even minimal interest in a club or organization on campus, go ahead and check it out! You should really use freshman year to find all the things you truly care about and want to be involved in. It’s okay to drop of clubs or activities if you can’t find the time for it or not all that invested.

MICHAEL MORIKADO

Year: Senior

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 research, Engineers Without Borders

Hobbies/interests:

Traveling, hiking, trying new foods, watching sports

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Driving up to Berkeley to the weekender football game and exploring San Francisco
  • Getting to know my floor and building
  • Going to La Jolla with my research lab

Advice for freshmen:

  • Get to know your professors outside of class
  • Get off campus and explore LA
  • Become involved early on
  • Step outside of your comfort zone
  • Take risks and learn

MIKE SHAO

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Chemical Engineering, Minor in Business Finance

Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

High School you attended: Clements High School

Email: mikeshao@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

  • USG, Assistant Director of Philanthropy Fund
  • Research, Yoon Lab
  • Society of Petroleum Engineers
  • Viterbi Funding Board
  • Chinese American Student Association
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Hobbies/interests: 

Tennis, Basketball, Netflix

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • My favorite memories include going to Santa Monica for a relaxing day at the beach with friends
  • Winning the Freshmen Academy egg drop challenge in my class
  • Getting to meet so many interesting and accomplished people at USC.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your professors questions, even if they aren’t relevant to what they’re teaching
  • Procrastination is bad (trust me, I know)
  • Go to class

NATALIE MONGER

Year: Senior

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
  • Undergraduate Research Assistant, USC Choreographic Institute under Dr. Patrick Corbin
  • Viterbi Student Ambassador
  • Course Producer for CSCI 201
  • Off-Campus Orientation Leader

Hobbies/interests:

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

Favorite memories from freshman 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: Junior

Major & Minor: Mechanical Engineering (Business Finance Minor)

Hometown: Santa Barbara, 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, Greek Life, Phi Delta Theta Fraternity

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

Favorite memories from freshman 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

NICK HUBER

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Industrial & Systems Engineering

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

High School you attended: Mariemont

Email: nicholeh@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Troy Camp, Theta Tau, ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)

Hobbies/interests: 

Guitar, violin, singing, hiking, dancing, zumba

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Participating in KASA Dance Off
  • Going to Ground Zero open mic nights
  • My high school orchestra teacher visiting me for my Concerto Chamber Orchestra concert
  • Troy Camp’s Summer Camp

Advice for freshmen:

  • Go to the involvement fair and join a couple clubs that sound interesting to you!
  • Do something outside of your comfort zone professionally or socially every semester to help encourage personal growth!
  • Explore your dorm and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people in your hall! Knowing people in your dormitory makes living at USC much more enjoyable and can help you make life long friends!

OLIVIA PEARSON

Year: Senior

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 freshman 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.

ROSIE HALPIN

Year: Junior

Major & Minor: Industrial and Systems Engineering, Business Finance Minor

Hometown: Lexington, KY

High School you attended: Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Email: dhalpin@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers President, Tri Delta Academic Development Chair, Viterbi Fellows Program

Hobbies/interests: 

Hiking, eating, music, traveling, skiing

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Gamedays
  • Kygo concert at the Hollywood Bowl
  • My friends throwing a surprise birthday party for me
  • Going on a roadtrip to the Weekender in San Francisco with my friends
  • My Birnkrant 6th floor!!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Join campus organizations quickly and then narrow it down to the ones you are actually interested in
  • Try to get out of your comfort zone as often as possible
  • Get to know your professors, ask upperclassman for advice
  • Don’t forget to explore LA and adventure outside of USC’s campus

ROXANNA PAKKAR

Year: Junior

Major: Electrical Engineering

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

High School you attended: Westchester High School

Email: pakkar@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC: 

Troy Camp, Research Assistant in Interaction Lab, IEEE

Hobbies/interests: 

Music, the beach, hiking, figure skating, soccer, crocheting

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Going to concerts
  • UCLA vs. USC football game
  • Just hanging out with my friends who lived on my floor
  • Going on SC Outfitters and Peaks and Professors trips
  • Meeting my best friends

Advice for freshmen:

  • Ask for help if you need it (or think you might need it)
  • Talk to as many people as you can
  • Take advantage of all the free events and speakers who visit campus

SARAH MILKOWSKI

Year: Senior

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: 

Chung Laboratory, Resident Assistant, USC Club Hockey Team, ASBME, MeDesign, Recreational Club Council

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

Favorite memories from freshman 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

SIENA APPLEBAUM

Year: Junior

Major: 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 freshman 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.

SOFIA TAVELLA

Year: Junior

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Rockville Centre, New York

High School you attended: South Side High School

Email: tavella@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

3D4E (Project Freehand), Research Assistant in Fluids Lab (WiSE Undergrad Research Fellow), SWE & Thematic Option

Hobbies/interests:

Photography, Hiking, Eating Pizza, Picnics & Movie Marathons

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Watching movies off a projector with my suite mates
  • Visiting San Diego over spring break & making Rube Goldberg machines in Academy!

Advice for freshmen:

  • Take GEs that actually interest you
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out & ask questions
  • Make friends with people outside your major
  • Get off campus on the weekends!

TADI NHETE

Year: Sophomore

Major & Minor: Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe

High School you attended: Queen’s College, Taunton

Email: nhete@usc.edu

Student involvement/organizations/campus jobs at USC:

USG Co-Assitant Director of Elections and Recruitment, VEX Robotics, NSBE, Society of Women In Law

Hobbies/interests:

Drawing, reading, painting, calligraphy

Favorite memories from freshman year:

  • Winning a mini competition at AthenaHacks.
  • Judging HackSC Jnr and seeing all the creative coding projects that the kids had made.
  • Meeting and shadowing a judge at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a day.

Advice for freshmen:

  • Make friends in your major and in your classes.
  • Talk to your professors and TAs. Get to know them and try to make a meaningful connection with them.
  • Eat well and exercise.

Faculty Profiles – Fall 2018

  • Inna Abramova
  • Amy Rechenmacher
  • Andrea Armani
  • Leana Golubchik
  • Costas Synolakis
  • Anthony Maddox