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Looking back at these past four years and reminiscing about my time in college, it’s hard to imagine having a better experience than the one I lived here at USC. 


What I wanted 

In short, this lists encompasses the most important things I was looking for in my college search:


  • Warm weather – I’m from Hawaii and am not built to walk to class in a snowstorm
  • Exciting, engaging school spirit – I wanted to be surrounded by people who also loved being at that specific school and who were proud to represent
  • Some sort of athletics – I’m a huge sport fanatic and wanted the opportunity to partake in full-on, dress-crazy, screaming-at-stadium, cry-when-we-lose game day experiences
  • Ideally a big city – Coming from a rock in the ocean, I wanted to experience something bigger and be someplace that was actively moving the world forward


  • Interdisciplinary studies – I wanted the chance to study and explore my other interests completely outside of stem and engineering
  • Collaboration – I really didn’t want to compete against my classmates and was looking for more project-based, collaborative curriculums
  • Opportunities – Whether it was research, clubs, projects, etc., I wanted a place that offered extensive, out-of-classroom opportunities to learn and apply different skills


How it started – Covid times

I had the unfortunate experience of beginning my college journey online, at home, across the kitchen table from my high school brother during Covid times. Not going to lie, it was tough tough. All the hopes of dorm parties, study group sessions, and welcome events were thrown out the window as I attempted to make friends over faceless zoom screens. 

However, I will say everybody was reeling from this transition and many students, especially freshman, tried to still make connections and get a taste of the freshman experience. I was able to make a couple acquaintances over office hours, lab groups, and homework questions that, fast forward to today, are now some of my best friends and supporters. Along with this, I was fortunately able to connect with a handful of my professors and teaching assistants that provided great help and useful mentorship.

All of this to say, I know a handful of kids that changed universities or decided college wasn’t for them following our online freshmen year and I can’t blame them, that was a challenging year for sure. Looking back, it was vital for me to have a continuous excitement for USC while being online because I easily could have switched to my state school to stay with all my high school friends and have a sense of normality. But the people and community of USC were so strong that it still extended to me online, across the ocean in Hawaii and kept me hopeful for the day I’d get to experience it in person. 


How it’s going – Looking forward

I am extremely happy and grateful to say that I was able to find all the things I was looking for in a college here at USC. To honor some recent highlights, my study group friends are being upgraded to roommates after graduation, USC is paying for me to attend the women’s basketball march madness tournament, my little brother is across campus now instead of across the kitchen table, and I’m currently writing this blog from Hammock Hill on a gorgeous sunny day after finishing pickleball class (yup an actual class here!). 

Looking back, something I didn’t understand as a high school senior is that I didn’t just want to be an engineer, I wanted the chance to be a college student. USC gave that to me in so many ways and I could not be more thankful. I was able to pursue my professional and academic passions alongside brilliant peers and mentors all while exploring life outside of the classroom, making lifelong friends, creating cherished memories, and building the foundation of a fulfilling future.

College decisions are intensely stressful and a great piece of advice I recently heard is that instead of dreading over the right decision, make your decision right. Most colleges have amazing engineering programs with great benefits, similar to Viterbi, but at the end of the day it’s what you choose to do at the school and who you do it with that will validate your decision the most. 


Good luck with all of your college decisions and if USC sound like the place for you, hope to be fighting on with you 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.