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Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to grow in college — in more ways than one. What better way to do that than thrusting yourself into an environment you’d never experienced before?

Growing up on the East Coast, I had only dreamt of going to California for college — I never realized it could be reality. Now that I’m here, I could probably name a million reasons why I love USC, but I’ll boil it down to three for my blog post this year.

More than an engineer

I had a friend from home at USC, and she said I would love the availability of both a strong engineering program and plenty of support for my interests outside of engineering — from music to journalism to dance.

Man, she was right.

Where else could you find a school with this many piano practice rooms, a whole educational newsroom, and tens of dance classes to choose from?

Viterbi calls this Engineering+, but I call it my hodge-podge of random interests.

I’m interested in some pretty niche combinations of things, and CS + journalism is definitely one of them. Now, I write about research, events, and accomplishments happening at the USC Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science. A lot of people don’t have the technical background to write for CS, and I’m really excited to see if this is something I’d be interested in pursuing as part of my career!

AthenaHacks 2023 — which I covered for the CS department!

At the same time, I also got the opportunity to try many solely journalistic endeavors. I worked as the copy desk lead as a freshman at Annenberg Media — a paid role that actually puts you on the list of newsroom leaders — under a lot of faculty members that have worked for pretty much every newspaper or broadcasting company imaginable. Functionally, I have as much newsroom experience (or more!) than a lot of college journalists, which is pretty awesome.

A lot of my fellow students can speak a lot to the fantastic engineering opportunities here, but one of my favorite parts about USC is being able to do both those very traditionally engineering things, but also partake in entirely non-technical fields.

The community

I always tell people that even if USC is massive — 20,000 undergraduate students — Viterbi definitely does not feel that way. There’s like a maximum of two degrees of separation between everyone; my roommate was on the phone with one of her club mentors the other day, and turns out, she’s in one of my classes! While this certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, this degree of connectedness has proven to actually be really helpful. Someone always knows someone else for the solution to your problem, and the Trojan Family is always willing to chip in their time. Have a question about your classes? You can ask an upperclassman in your major, and if you don’t know anyone (unlikely), you definitely know someone who does.

CS 170 selfie with Prof. Victor Adamchik!

breakfast in the dining hall with Prof. Mark Redekopp!

The same goes for studying. Engineering isn’t a walk in a park at any school, and USC is no exception. Why struggle alone when you can struggle with others? In all of my engineering-adjacent classes here, I’ve been able to lean on others when I don’t understand a topic, and once I get it, I’ve been able to share it with others. One of my favorite memories from freshman year was sitting in my room the night before my discrete math homework was due with four other CS majors, trying to collectively push through the problem set. In fact, our professor highly encouraged us to work together to get through the assignment!

why struggle alone when you can struggle with others?

Growing up

While maybe a lot of other schools have many of these things, my last goal (and perhaps the most important to me), was really growing up at college. USC has truly been something new for me, from living in such a big city — trying out all of the good eats and meeting people from all over the world — to really academically challenging myself in the last year and a half. Last semester, I successfully grocery shopped and cooked every week, and I also signed my first lease! I am personally of the belief that college spoon-feeds adulthood one bite at a time, and I think I’ve gotten a very manageable taste of it so far.

homemade beef noodle soup 😋

10-minute turkey burger that looks like it came from a restaurant

I felt like I had grown a lot in high school, and I wanted to do even more of that in college. I think things have been going super well so far, and I can’t wait to see where the next two and a half years take me!

Anna Hsu

MAJOR: Computer Engineering and Computer Science YEAR: Class of 2026 HOMETOWN: Vienna, virginia PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @annaa.hsu At USC, I'm a part of HackSC, the flagship hackathon on campus, and I write stories about research, accomplishments, and events occurring in the Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science. I also lead copy editing efforts for College Brief, a nonprofit dedicated to instilling greater news engagement in college-aged audiences. In my spare time, you can find me listening to Mandopop, eating good food in LA + beyond, and going on runs!