Skip to main content

Hi everyone! Today we are highlighting biomedical engineering majors at Viterbi. Read on to find more info about what it’s like to study, work, and live life as an biomedical engineer.

Today’s responses are from:

Keyvette Tabb:

Hi! My name is Keyvette Tabb, and I am currently a junior studying Biomedical Engineering.  I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, so moving to the west coast was an exciting change. Here at USC, I am involved in the Freehand Project as well as ShiftSC.

Rachel.Amir Chatman:

Hi everyone! My name is Rachel.Amir Chatman and I am a junior from Redwood City, CA (Bay Area). I study biomedical engineering with a specialization in Connected Devices and Making. I love going to the beach, traveling with my family, watching sunsets/sunrises, skateboarding, exploring new things with my friends, and attending music festivals.

How I describe my major
(and emphasis if applicable):

Keyvette Tabb: I would describe Biomedical Engineering as a combination of all things STEM. The first few years include a lot of fundamental math and science classes, which come together when you start taking the major focused classes. Overall, I would say the major is a lot of work, but it is such a great feeling to see everything you learned come together in the end.

Rachel.Amir Chatman: When anyone gets a confused look on their face and asks what biomedical engineering is, I first tell them that it’s a super valid question because even I was confused when I first began my classes. I then explain that it is the intersection of medicine/healthcare and engineering methods regarding the human body. Specifically, we strive to improve quality of life by designing medical devices to cure diseases and alleviate pain, creating prosthetic limbs and bionic structures to aid disabled bodies, studying biomechanics to improve athletic performance, using vast and intersectional knowledge to provide consultation for biotech companies, and much more. I really like my major because it allows me to gain knowledge in a variety of subjects within the engineering field without restricting me to expertise in just one. I also love that those who make the decision to study this field typically are service-oriented and have altruistic motivations behind the pursuit of their career.

How I chose my major:

Keyvette Tabb: When choosing a major, I always knew I wanted it to be something in the STEM field because I really enjoyed math and science classes, so I thought why not be a doctor? So, I came to USC as a biological sciences major on a pre med track. However, I realized very quickly that I didn’t want to be a doctor and that I just chose it because it was the most obvious STEM career where I could directly impact people. I then started researching more majors that would combine all my interests and came across BME. The switch to BME was the best possible thing I could have done for myself because I was truly learning things that I was passionate about and working towards a career where I will be able to contribute to society.

How I got involved at USC:

Keyvette Tabb: I honestly got a slow start to getting involved in things at USC due to COVID. Looking back, one of my biggest regrets is not getting involved in more things because it was honestly a great way to meet people. As someone who finds it hard to put myself out there, my involvement in clubs has been mutually beneficial because in addition to meeting some great people, I have also learned skills that are extremely important in my major such as the 3D printing and design skills I have learned through the Freehand Project. In addition to clubs, I also work at a library on campus where I get to interact with students daily and have formed relationships with the other people I work with.

Rachel.Amir Chatman: Coming into USC I was so hyped because I had been wanting to come here for so long so I knew I would hit the ground running with my involvements so I could soak in as much as I could from my time here. I initially thought I would simply continue the extracurriculars I had taken on in high school, just on a grander level. However, USC pleasantly surprised me with the plethora of orgs and programs it had to offer and I quickly got involved with orgs I hadn’t considered before such as a hiking club called Peaks and Professors and a volunteering org called Brain Exercise Initiative where I facilitate brain strengthening games with senior citizens. Since then, I’m happy to have been afforded the opportunity to also get involved with various other volunteering organizations (JEP Tutoring, SLS Mentor/Tutor, SCOUT elementary school science experiment demonstrator, student panelist/interviewer with Office of Admissions, Trojan Scholar Society Mentor), worked as an RA for a USC summer program, worked as a research assistant in the Biomechanics Research Lab, joined several professional orgs and fellowships, became a member of a black service sorority called Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and am Co-President of an ethical technology club called Shift SC! I couldn’t be happier with my involvements and the great people I’ve met along the way.

How I found community at USC:

Keyvette Tabb: I found that starting college during a global pandemic made it quite hard to find a sense of community at USC. I moved to LA during my second semester of Freshman year when everything was still fully remote so meeting new people was hard for me. About a month in, I got lucky in finding an amazing group of friends from reaching out to a girl I had potentially been thinking about living with pre-pandemic. I now live with these same girls to this day, and I know they are going to be lifelong friends. However, the reality of that first month was that it was lonely and hard, but I don’t regret my decision because it made me who I am today. My advice for those who are looking to find a community is to look past the surface level culture that is presented to you. If you don’t feel like you can be your true self in one community, this doesn’t mean that you are subjected to sticking in that one community. USC has a community for anyone and anything you are passionate about; it might just take some time to try new things and find it.

Rachel.Amir Chatman: As nerdy as it sounds, I met some of my best friends through study groups and class. I noticed that the same few people were just as confused as me in office hours and, due to the small and personal nature of the BME major, I shared the majority of my classes with them which allowed me to feel comfortable enough to reach out and ask to study together. A year later, I am so grateful to have a group that not only looks after each other academically, but I can call these people lifelong friends who I really love spending time with and will continue to create a meaningful college experience with.

How I spend my free time at USC:

Keyvette Tabb: I enjoy spending my free time on the weekend going to the beach, hiking, and trying new foods. LA has so many things to do and after 2 and a half years of being here, I still haven’t even come close to experiencing all of it.  Some of my favorite LA restaurants include Jay’s Birria tacos, Bossanova, and Hello Fish. I also took a yoga class this semester that meets twice a week for an hour, and it has been the best experience. Being able to carve out time to destress is so important and I try to supplement this by going to the gym consistently (I haven’t been doing great LOL). Lastly, one of my favorite memories from being in LA was getting to see the Rams parade pass in front of my apartment after they won the Superbowl!

Rachel.Amir Chatman: In my free time, I love to spend quality time with my friends hosting game nights, going to parties, hiking, playing sport pick up games, trying new restaurants, going to the beach or taking time to destress on my own by hammocking and reading. I am also very thankful to have my car out here so I am able to explore the great sights and activities that LA has to offer. I am also a huge sports fan so I have attended football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer games so far and am challenging myself to attend a game from every sport before I graduate.

Viterbi Voices