March 9, 2017
Student Highlight: Merit Scholar, Hima Rajana
Over the past few weeks our office has hosted a group of newly admitted students who are being considered for a merit scholarship. We wanted to highlight Hima Rajana, a sophomore and scholarship recipient from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is pursuing a degree in Neuroscience with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Computer Programming. This year, Hima is involved in the Trojan Scholars Society (TSS) as the Director of Service. Apart from TSS, Hima is involved with the USC Helenes, a spirit and service organization, serving as one of the official hostesses of the university. She is also a counselor with USC Troy Camp, a USC Dornsife Ambassador, a trip lead with Peaks and Professors, and a research assistant at the Brain and Creativity Center. In her free time, she enjoys conquering LA’s mountains, dreaming up endless combinations of sweet and savory oatmeal, and looking up photos of cute dogs.
January 26th, 2015.
I was running late to a meeting, and annoyed that my mother was making me get the mail before I left, so I didn’t think much of the big red package that took up most of our mailbox. My college applications had been done for a couple of months, and all there was left to do until March was wait. As I handed the mail to my mother in the garage, something made me stop and take a closer look at the package emblazoned with the University of Southern California seal. I ripped it open and skimmed the letter, my heart racing as I began to comprehend what this meant. I was in!! And even better, in the running for a scholarship! My mom and I squealed as we hugged each other, flipping through all of the shining pamphlets about all of the different programs at USC.
Three semesters into my time at USC, I could not be more grateful for that red envelope, because I wouldn’t have been able to come to USC without my scholarship. Every day, I am reminded of how lucky I am to attend this school. During my freshman year, I had the opportunity to live in Birnkrant Honors Residential College. As a scholarship student, from the orientation onwards, you are automatically a part of Trojan Scholars Society (TSS). TSS exists to serve the merit scholar community, from providing fun social opportunities, like attending movie screenings or scholarship retreats on Catalina Island, to platforms to serve the South Los Angeles community, like with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. TSS also hosts academic events to help scholars receive individualized attention with their resumes and cover letters, get involved in research, and prepare them uniquely for the real world.
Living at Birnkrant, I was surrounded by an incredibly diverse, bright, and motivated group of people at all times. This prompted thought-provoking late night conversations on everything from health as a social construct and the #Oscarssowhite hashtag to a meta-analysis of every contestant that had ever been eliminated from the Bachelor. We often congregated in the multi purpose room downstairs to watch some of the football away games, do homework, or participate in the trivia nights the residential assistants put on for us. Not to mention, I can now check living above a Starbucks off my bucket list! My freshman year was full of new experiences, including my first all-nighter for a biology lab report (do not recommend this!) and my first football game.
One of my favorite things about USC is its commitment to being a global university. Spending one full semester abroad is a huge commitment, and not everyone can do so because of their major, summer plans, or financially. However, USC has myriad opportunities to travel that are shorter than the full semester, such as our Maymester and Problems without Passports programs, which are about one month in length. In addition to (hopefully) studying abroad next year, I have had the opportunity to go abroad twice thus far. This March, I’ll be spending spring break at Oxford University through the Levan Institute for Ethics and Humanities, attending a conference on human rights after conflict.
Last summer, I took a Problems without Passports course on culture and health in Guatemala with Dr. Quinn. Problems without Passports courses are centered around problem-based learning, through which you conduct a research project to craft a solution to a societal problem in the country you’re studying in. As a scholarship student, I was able to combine my exceptional funding units with a summer undergraduate research fund grant to get my trip fully funded. Exceptional funding consists of up to 8 additional units of classes that are covered by your scholarship. This allows a lot of people to take summer courses, or take on additional units during the school year.
Throughout my time in Guatemala, I learned about health care through multiple lenses, from attending lectures on public health to touring hospitals. My trip to Guatemala made me aware of the importance of preventative measures of health, like education and access to contraception, and how these could often address the roots of the problems that doctors were struggling to treat, such as diabetes. I realized that there are more paths to working in healthcare than becoming a doctor. Growing up in Silicon Valley, I was quick to embrace the power of technology and declare a computer programming minor in college. This year, I have had the opportunity to delve further into my minor, and have learned how to code in C++ and Python. As I learn more about databases and the different structures in C++, I am more and more enthusiastic about the role of data science in health. The idea of medicine providing personalized information on how each individual responds to is absolutely fascinating to me. In the future, I hope to combine global health with data science to analyze the efficacy of public health interventions.
Looking back, my two years at USC have been some of the most exciting of my life. By taking advantage of the many opportunities here at USC, I have met incredible people, traveled around the world, and grown in ways I never thought possible. If I could go back in time and do it again, I would, 100 times over. Fight on!