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Coming from a small town on the little rock of Oahu, Hawaii, I loved my home but knew it was time to experience something bigger and push myself farther. I applied to many colleges in California being that it was close to home and had a fairly diverse population that would reflect my community back home. To be completely honest, I knew of USC for its big name and because some family friends were very proud alumni. They encouraged me to apply and I thought why not? It sounded like it could be a match for me and checked off all the basic, preliminary boxes I was looking for in a university and overall college experience: rigorous academics, football, extracurricular opportunities, and social life. However, I didn’t understand the true nature of USC until coming here for a tour, that’s where the real attraction really happened.

I immediately enjoyed the obvious energy, pride, and excitement on campus. During my campus tour, we passed numerous students sporting USC gear, big posters and screens advertising the on-campus events of the week, and heard kids yelling “Fight on!” to our tour guide. It truly seemed like everyone was excited to be there and be a part of the USC culture, making me desire to be a part of it too. In fact, when my family and I were just walking around campus we stopped to watch a dance battle going on and were pulled into the dance party finale that they had. Seeing the willingness to bring people in, even those you’ve never met, was so awesome and something I really loved to see. 

I knew in coming to college I wanted to pursue engineering but be able to pursue other passions as well and really grow outside of my comfort zone. USC had a great curriculum and emphasis for this interdisciplinary education and if I ever get the pleasure of meeting you in person, you without a doubt will hear me talk about it. I loved hearing about engineering students who were also dance minors, musicians, and startup founders. It was inspiring to see that I could be so much more than an engineer.

The last thing I’ll touch on that I always feel like is necessary is that I was fortunate enough the USC gave me the most financial support out of all my options. We don’t talk about it a lot but I think it’s important to mention money and the factor it plays. It’s no secret, college is hecka expensive and is just going up with time. It’s hard to allocate that much money to a college education and wonder if it’ll be worth the payout in the end. I was lucky in getting the aid I needed to be able to afford USC’s tuition and being a Junior now I feel confident in saying, I believe the experience and education has been worth it. The opportunities I’ve been presented, experiences I’ve had, and people I’ve met have nothing short of amazing and I could not be more thankful. However, money is always going to be a factor so definitely make sure to weigh the pros and cons beforehand. It’s really about making the most out of your experience and tuition wherever you end up going.

The very, very last thing (I promise) is the Trojan family. CHEESY, I know I know BUT I am hear to tell you that it is a real thing. Probably similar to you, I heard the rumors and promise of the USC alumni network and thought, okay that would be kind of nice if it was true. It is. Many of the opportunities I’ve had is because of a reference or simply being connected to USC. Alumni are more than willing to help and support in any way that they can. Lots of times if you want to work at a company, you can message an alumni on LinkedIn that works there and they’re usually more than happy to set up a chat with you and even give you a reference when you’re applying. It is something I could not be more thankful for and it speaks back to the pride USC students have in our university. Trojans help trojans. 

If you’ve made it this far, I will leave you with this: USC initially checked all of my boxes but when I dove deeper I realized it fulfilled other desires I never even knew I had. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason and you will end up where you’re supposed to be. USC ended up being everything I could’ve hoped for and more for many reasons I didn’t anticipate when I initially applied. If this sounds like someplace you’d enjoy, we are more than happy to welcome you in! Hope to be fighting on with you guys soon 🙂

Aisha Yamamoto

MAJOR: Biomedical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Kaneohe, Hawaii PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @aisha.yamamoto I am involved with a startup working to optimize healthcare in underserved international communities. I've also worked with a biotech startup over the summer and conducted undergraduate research at a neuroscience lab. Aside from engineering, I'm involved in Troy Camp, Hawaii Club, and volunteer within the LA community.