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When I was deciding where I would go to college, one of my last choices was to go to USC. USC was a school I had applied to because I knew it was in my home state of California and it was a good academic and extracurricular match, but I never really considered it until financial aid got back to me in late April. 

Looking back, I wish I could comfort myself about my decision to go to USC. In the moment, I was terrified. I was making a last-minute decision to go from Northern California to Southern California, from a small school to a big school, from a Jesuit university to a non-secular one. I can confidently say that I have never regretted my decision, and with one month out from graduation, I wish there was a way to extend my experience here as an undergraduate longer. 

Going through college at the start of the pandemic, I’ve seen USC at many stages. I’ve seen it pre-covid as a freshman who was so excited, and anxious, to start a new chapter away from home. I’ve also seen USC in my hometown, trying desperately to keep the Trojan Family vibrant while in the peaks of the pandemic. Now, I’ve seen it reemerge from the pandemic, with students figuring out what the old USC was like while creating their own version. 

A common question I’ve gotten is what is it about USC that makes people stay? What isn’t told to us in campus tours? What can you tell me about your experience here that I haven’t heard before?

My go-to answer is the community. I believe USC has some of the most passionate students with the work hard, play hard mentality. I love chatting with students and listening to them about why they came to USC, why they chose their major, and what they want to do with it. Everyone here is incredibly proud to be a Trojan, and wouldn’t change it for the world. Hearing how motivated others are has further influenced me to be more driven and active in my goals

Specifically, my community of engineers is full of people I’m so proud of and could brag about all day. 

  • The people in my major and in my classes, who have supported me in my academic, professional, and personal goals. These are the people I know I can reach out to about any instance, that I hang out with on the weekends, and that I’m trying to recruit to my company so we can be work colleagues. 
  • The lovely ladies of WIE (Women In Engineering), my executive board, who support me in my Chair role and play along with my silly icebreakers and board bonding activities. This board has helped to develop my leadership skills and I have never felt more prepared for the professional world than in this position. 
  • My fantastic friends who are now USC alumni. I went to graduation last year and cried my eyes out from happy (and sad) tears. I couldn’t imagine my senior year without them, yet I was so proud to see them get all the recognition they deserve and to watch what they would do next. 

As a freshman, I would have never imagined that I would have communities and people I care so deeply about (and so many of them at that!). It’s well known that USC is a competitive school and engineering is not an easy major. However, with these people surrounding me, I have always known that I am loved, supported, and believed in. Without them, I would have left USC and I could never leave USC now knowing that I would be leaving them behind. 

It’s also the random memories that I will hold close to my heart. From 3am walks to take a break from our studying to watching Love is Blind for 5 hours straight, these are the silly and fun things that happen in college that you may not think of initially. At the end of the day, my college decision came down to gut feeling. I walked onto campus for the first time on April 28th, 2019 and I just knew that I had to go to USC. I’m so incredibly grateful and lucky to not only have been a student at USC but to have also met the people I will stay connected with as I transition into my adult life. 

Fight on (forever)!

Madie Fujimoto