Did Somebody Say Food?

If you are like me and love food, then I bet you are wondering about our dining options (heck, even snack options). Let me break it down for you:

At USC, there is always something that is just right for you, and it’s always easy to eat well. Over the years, our campus has experienced many updates to our traditional dining halls, which include Everybody’s Kitchen (EVK), Parkside, and USC Village Dining. These three dining halls are strategically located throughout our campus to give our students convenient options just steps from their dorm rooms. The dining halls provide a wide variety of dining options including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more!  If you have food allergies, there is the Allergen Awareness Zone in Parkside that serves food that doesn’t contain the top eight allergens. If you have the time, I encourage you to check out what is being served at each dining hall, so you can pick a place to visit and eat your favorites. You can view each dining hall’s daily menu on the USC Hospitality Residential Menu site.  

USC also has halal and kosher options for students with religious dietary needs. Kosher entrees are available at Parkside (IRC) and at Seeds Marketplace. There’s also the SChalom floor in Parkside that facilitates Kosher cooking in resident kitchens. USC has expanded kosher options in recent years, including making hot kosher entrees available daily. Places like LiteraTea have fresh kosher salads available every day, as well. In addition to on campus halal options, there are also many outstanding halal restaurants in Los Angeles, given our large Muslim population. 

In general, you’ll find that we do our best to be inclusive of all food lovers.  For the health nuts and the junk food lovers, you will find something to suit your palette on campus. With salad bars, smoothies, wok stations, waffle makers, grills, and a variety of ice cream/frozen yogurt options, there’s something for everyone. The Tutor Campus Center (TCC) offers restaurants and cafes such as Seeds Marketplace that feature grab ‘n go options, as well as made-to-order sandwiches and salads. Panda Express, Verde, and Burger Crush serve familiar fare. And of course, what campus center would be complete without staples such as pizza and coffee? Students can order salads, pastas, and pizzas at The Kitchen or order a favorite coffee or ice-blended beverage at C&G Tea Co. And to make the food search even easier, USC Hospitality now uses a Mobile Ordering app!  

There is also my personal food heaven: the USC Village! It offers such a wide range of options from delicious dining to lifestyle shopping, fitness centers, and so much more.  You could get ramen from Ramen KENJO or tacos at City Tacos. Do you have a seafood craving? I recommend the clam chowder at Oceana Seafood. Or try Cava (the Admission Office’s favorite) for delicious, create-your-own grain bowls, salads, and pitas.  Don’t forget to try a churro from Dulce, too! Finally, our newest addition to the USC Village is…Insomnia Cookies!  There are so many more restaurants I could rave about in the USC Village, but I recommend your taste buds test it out for themselves. 

With all of these options for food, there are also a ton of options for COFFEE! Last December, the Office of Undergraduate Admission explored the various cafes on campus and reviewed some favorite cozy drinks. It’s safe to say that we were fully caffeinated (maybe too caffeinated – some of us were a bit jittery).  Check out the Cozy Campus Coffee Spots blog for the full reviews! 

Lastly, a real treat that is offered on campus is the Trojan Farmers’ Market that occurs every Wednesday on the McCarthy Quad at 11am-3pm. The Trojan Farmers’ Market is committed to offering healthy food to students, staff, faculty, and surrounding community members. There are over 30 local vendors who offer a variety of locally grown produce, handmade products, and fresh healthy foods. Some favorites among us current Trojans are fresh strawberries, homemade hummus, pupusas, and fresh salsa. 

Our students truly have a large variety of options when it comes to finding brain food on campus. The next time you visit, we hope you’ll grab a snack and experience a taste of what our campus has to offer! 

Written by: 

Dylan Goodwill, Assistant Director – USC Office of Undergraduate Admission 

Student Veterans at USC: A Proud Tradition of Support

My calling to advocate for student veterans began over eight years ago as I began my career in higher education. As a student veteran myself, I recognize what makes student veterans so different from their traditional college student counterparts. Aside from their life experience from military service, their unique set of non-traditional student characteristics includes distinct strengths that contribute to their academic success. For many transitioning veterans, repurposing their individual traits from military to student is key in finding academic success. For this reason, student veterans gravitate towards veteran-friendly environments where an institution’s core values and culture promote veteran services that will spawn academic success and a positive student experience. At USC, we understand these characteristics and transitional challenges, which is why we hold a proud tradition of serving our men and our women in uniform, and as an institution, our mission is to serve those who serve. As referenced in the message from Judge Widney Professor Gen. David H. Petraeus, “The University of Southern California is among the most supportive and welcoming universities in America for student veterans.”  

USC’s proud tradition of support began in 1914 while hosting a training school for U.S. Army officers, and since then, our partnership with the military has remained unbroken. USC has also hosted ROTC programs since 1940 with unwavering support and a commitment to producing the next generation of leaders. Among these leaders are highly decorated military and civilian leaders – including four-star generals, astronauts, Medal of Honor recipients, and officials in the highest levels of government service – who chose to attend USC before or after their military service.  

At USC, we aim to support and empower our student veterans by offering opportunities to engage in discussions on various subjects such as current events, employment issues, financial challenges, and family dynamics of service members, transitioning veterans, and military families. These opportunities position our student veterans to achieve academic success and prepare them to impact their communities. Additionally, USC is greatly enriched by our student-veteran population, who bring unique experiences, perspectives, and skills into our classrooms, student body, and community. Their diverse backgrounds, service history, and academic interests help foster the next generation of innovators, leaders, visionaries, and creators.  

To continue to support the transition and success of our veterans, USC continuously creates new programs and resources for our student-veterans, active service members, and ROTC students – including academic, financial, and wellness support. Here is a list of resources to address the needs of this student population.  

Departmental Support  
Since 2014, the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) has worked to support student veterans in all endeavors of campus life, including outreach and admission to graduation and job seeking. The center collaborates between multiple student affairs offices and administrative divisions and helps serve nearly 1,200 veterans who enroll in USC classes each semester. The VRC provides students with a variety of benefits:  

  • Study space with access to computers  
  • Opportunities to socialize with fellow student veterans  
  • Information about on-campus services  
  • Check-ins with a designated veteran certifying officer on campus  
  • Special programs, such as the advisement luncheons, offered at the beginning of the semester  
  • Professional advisement (resumes, cover letters, networking, and interviews) and a job recruitment fair  
  • Other perks like catered luncheons and complimentary tickets for sporting events!  

Clubs & Organizations  
Across campus, USC staff members in various academic and student affairs departments serve as direct contact points for student veterans to address any specific questions or requests they may have as they navigate their educational journey. This includes the Career Center, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL), Student Accessibility Services (OSAS), the Counseling Center, and more. Additionally, each Admission Counselor in the USC Office of Undergraduate Admission can answer general questions about the application and transfer credit processes. Admission Counselors are assigned to applicants based on their most recent post-secondary institution.  

To help student veterans establish relationships and build social and professional networks during their time at USC and after graduation, there are multiple students and alumni associations to join. The USC Veterans Association is a student organization composed of undergraduate and graduate students and keeps members informed of various opportunities and resources. On their active Facebook page, students can find out about upcoming social events and workshops, job openings, and research opportunities and apply for leadership positions within the group. The Marshall Military Veterans Association is a group for student veterans pursuing their MBA at the Marshall School of Business. To provide ongoing support for student veterans in their transition to USC, the USC Student Veterans Support Network mission is to help current and former students, staff, and faculty connect with students. Lastly, the USC Alumni Veterans Network is open to all USC alumni who are veterans and are interested in staying involved with the Trojan Family long after graduation.  

Financial Benefits  
In addition to their G.I. benefits, student veterans have access to the same scholarships and financial aid resources utilized by all USC students. USC’s Office of Financial Aid and the Veterans Certification Office work with military veterans to help them understand their educational benefits and provide assistance with financial aid and other funding. Check out this video that explains this process more in-depth.  

USC is proud to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which is open to post-9/11 GI Bill recipients and covers up to one-half of tuition and mandatory fees matched dollar for dollar by the V.A. The Schoen Family Scholarship Program for Veterans was established in 1986 by William J. Schoen, a former U.S. Marine and USC alumnus (’60, MBA’ 63), to provide additional funding for student veterans at USC. This scholarship is available to new and continuing students in the Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering who have served a minimum of three years of continuous, full-time, active duty in the previous ten years.  

Research & Practice  
With the desire to meet the needs of our student veterans on campus, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) is also committed to research, education, and outreach for all veterans and their families. The CIR conducts a wide range of research projects, provides training seminars to behavioral health providers and clinicians, and works with community partners to address the issues that face today’s veterans and military families.  

The University of Southern California has continued commitment and dedication to assisting veterans, service members, and qualified family members. USC is committed to providing the tools to successfully assist student veterans in navigating and integrating into the college environment while creating a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable campus environment for veterans.

With this said, please take the time to review the resources below. Should you have any questions regarding the number of resources available or questions regarding admissions and the application process, please feel free to email me, Eric Mejia, at emejia17@usc.edu 

For further information on USC’s Veteran Resource Center, check the FAQ’s – USC Veterans Resource Center.  

Semper Fidelis and Fight On! 
Written by Eric Mejia, Assistant Director 

The Transfer Experience: Common Questions Answered by Current USC Students

It’s that time of year when transfer students who applied to USC hear back about their Admission decision. If it’s good news you received, you likely have many questions about what it’s like to join the USC community as a transfer student. I was able to connect with a couple current USC students, Ellen and Anna-Sofia, to talk with them about their experience.  

Will: Thank you both for agreeing to chat with me. I’d like to start with probably the question I get the most: where did you live? Was it hard to get housing?  

Ellen: Getting university housing was a relatively easy process for me. I filled out the USC housing application and I was assigned to an apartment in Troy Hall, which is a graduate housing building off-campus, but the first-floor houses new transfer students. It was an amazing experience to be with people who were also new to USC. 

Will: That’s awesome Ellen. Did you live in USC housing too Ana-Sofia? 

Ana-Sofia: I never lived on-campus so I can’t say much about getting housing. I was offered on-campus housing but decided to live with some friends off campus. 

Will: Makes sense, Ana-Sofia. I’m glad it worked out for both of you! My next question is another really common one, that I think a lot of students may be afraid to ask. Did you struggle or feel overwhelmed when you started at USC?  

Ellen: At times, I did feel like I didn’t belong because I wasn’t used to the environment at USC, and even though I felt like this in the moment, in retrospect transfer students don’t really stick out. There’s always something to do on campus, and everything felt so new and fast paced.  

Ana-Sofia: My first month or two at USC were very nerve-racking as it was my first time leaving home.  Never in my time at USC have I felt like I stood out for being a transfer. All students are extremely supportive of one another no matter when they got to USC. 

Will: I appreciate your honesty and that you ultimately felt welcomed at USC . I’m curious, looking back now, where did you meet your closest friends? 

Ana-Sofia: I made some friends through my classes, labs and discussion. But I also joined multiple clubs and a sorority which helped me build a stronger network of people both inside and out of classes.  

Ellen: Because of the nature of my major, we all spent a lot of time with each other anyways, so it was a great starting off point in making friends. Outside of my major, I joined a couple of clubs, like Pan African Student Association, where I met friends as well. There’s also a Transfer Student Community, which is a club that I’d recommend for transfer students to meet and connect with each other! 

Will: You both just reminded me. I totally forgot to ask about your majors. How about you tell us what you study at USC, what it was like signing up for classes, and whether or not you changed your major ever? 

Ellen: I am a Film & Television Production major. Academically, my first semester coursework wasn’t too dissimilar than the work I was doing at my community college. I mainly struggled balancing my academic and social life because living on a college campus was new to me, but it just takes some time to find your own perfect balance. 

Since a lot of my classes are taken in a sequential order, I really didn’t have to struggle to figure out what classes I was taking every semester. I did pick up a minor in Entertainment Industry after my first semester, which was a super easy process because it was in the same school as my major and many of my major requirements overlapped with the minor. 

Ana-Sofia: I study Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the Keck School of Medicine. Registering for classes for the first time was extremely stressful as I had no idea how to register but thankfully the staff that was there on the day of orientation were helpful navigating through the process. I switched my major my second semester at USC and found it incredibly seamless and easy. 

Will: It’s nice to hear that the folks at Orientation were so helpful. I always tell my students they can reach out to me if they need help picking class but both of you both make it sound like you were well taken care of. We’ve been chatting for a while, but before we sign off, can you give our newly admitted students one piece of advice?  

Ellen: Don’t be afraid to get out there! USC is a big campus with a lot of students, and it can be overwhelming at times, but USC is also a very social campus. You’ll find your niche eventually. Enjoy your time, the opportunities, and the environment USC provides! 

Ana-Sofia: Leave all doors open for opportunities or friendships. By being open minded I made some of my best friends here as well as landed an amazing internship.    

Will: Amazing! Thank you both so much for your time and advice. I hope you have a good and restful summer. Fight on! 

Ellen: Fight on! 

Ana-Sofia: Fight on!