Inside The Trojan Marching Band 

The Trojan Marching Band (aka The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe, Ever!) is an integral part of the USC experience. They are not only heavily featured as part of our football gameday experience, but they are heavily featured in all types of USC campus events and non-USC events. Today we have an interview with a current band member to give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a part of the TMB! 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.  

Interviewer (I): Thanks Terell for being here with us today. Could you start by introducing yourself? Tell us your name, where you’re from, your major, and what year you’re in at USC. 

Terrell Mesteth (T): My name’s Terrell Mesteth. I’m from Chinle, Arizona, and I’m a third year studying business administration. 

I:  How long have you been in the Trojan Marching  Band and what do you play? 

T: So, this is my third year and I play flute. 

I: What made you want to join the marching band? Did you do it in high school or is it just something you became interested in going into college? 

T: It was something I did in high school and I wanted to continue it. I wanted to see how it was at first. I thought it was really hard [..], But I ended up really liking it!  I did [it] in high school and that was the primary reason I wanted to continue. 

I: Was doing marching band in college part of your college decision at all or just a bonus that we have that here? 

T:  It was one of the factors that made me choose USC. I knew the marching band was really good, [they] were pretty big, and I knew it was a really good program. 

I: You talked a little bit about the difficulty of transitioning to a college marching band. What would you say were the biggest differences between your high school band and a college marching band. 

T: Definitely the time commitment, I think, was the biggest aspect. In high school, it was very much on a volunteer basis. But here if you decide to go and be in the marching band all practices are mandatory.  

I: What does that time commitment look like? And how do you balance that with academics and other parts of your college experience? 

T:  Practices are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 4 pm to 6 pm. Saturdays, which are your game days, [practices] are probably from 6 AM to 10 AM. And then game days: Typically kickoff starts at 7pm. We probably get there at 5pm. We don’t come back until around midnight. So it’s a really big time commitment. Literally, like your weekends are gone, like all you do is sleep Sunday. We are catching up from Saturday. Balancing the work is pretty hard, Freshman year was a learning experience, because I took a lot of hard classes during the fall. What I do now [is] I tend to take easier classes during the marching band season. I take more typical major classes when we get off the practice schedule in the spring. 

I: What does the time commitment look like during the Spring semester? 

T: There’s always gigs going on also. Private gigs happen year round. Also in the spring there’s the basketball band, which I did freshman year. It’s really fun! I mean you get to sit almost courtside. I didn’t do it last year because I wanted to take a break.There’s also the spring band. And then in between there’s also certain events like soccer or water polo that are volunteer.  All these events are optional in the Spring.

I: That’s a great thing to mention. The USC band does support all the sports, not just football. Were you interested in college sports at all before coming to USC? Are you interested now? 

T: Yeah, definitely! I was not into college sports at all before coming here. I think I only went to one high school football game throughout my entire 4 years in high school. And now when I come home you’ll catch me on Twitter for all these football updates. It’s insane how it changes you. You’ll get really into football. Other college sports too! I follow USC water polo now. I was already into basketball. 

I: The Trojan Marching band doesn’t just do school events. Sometimes they are hired for private gigs. Have you been able to participate in any? If so, can you talk about some of your favorite gigs? 

T: I’ve done a lot! The Los Angeles Rams gig was fun. This was last year. It was a full band gig.  We dressed up and everything and did a half time show for them.There was also an event in Orange County at a mansion. That was really fun. The view is amazing. It is on top of a hill over the ocean and around sunset. That was a 40 person band gig. 

I: The band goes to all football games, home and away. I know that only parts of the band go to every away game. In your two years in the band, what have been your favorite trips? 

T: The past two big trips we’ve gone on I have really loved. First was the Chicago trip, which is the Notre Dame game. That was fun. You get to hang out with your friends and stuff. And then going home when we played Arizona last year. I had a lot of friends there and that was really fun. 

I:  What would you say the culture of the marching band is like? 

T:  We’re a really close knit community. It’s just like an activity that we all love to do. It’s very school spirited. We are all die hard USC fans. 

I: What is the band director, Jake Vogel like? 

T:  I was here for his very first year as a director. He definitely cares about us. I mean, if you have any problems, he wants us to go to him. He’s really helpful and caring! 

I: What is your favorite game memory in your 2 years? . 

T: Definitely the UCLA game that happened last year was my favorite. We absolutely got destroyed my first year.Then we went back last year and we won. To make it better it was at the Rose Bowl and that was really fun. The atmosphere was great and it was a really good football game, too. That game determined if we were going to the Pac-12 Championship.  

I: What is your favorite thing about being in the marching band? 

T: I’ve already said this a lot, but probably the connections. The connections you have, especially with the class you enter with, will definitely last a long time. Those bonds you make in band you’ll have for the rest of your life. I know alumni and they still talk to people they were in the band with which I think is the big benefit.  

I: What is the process of joining the band like? 

T: I thought the process was very easy. I just looked at the marching band’s website. This was during the summer before I came into USC. There’s literally a form. You just sign up and you show up. They’ll email the itinerary. You don’t need any prior experience or music background or anything. It’s very open for everyone. There’s no auditions. There are auditions for drumline, though. They aren’t mandatory, but are used for instrument placement within the drumline.

 They situate you with early move-in for your dorming, but if that doesn’t work out they’ll also get you at the hotel.  

I: To any prospective Trojan band, members that are reading this now what words of wisdom do you have to say to them? 

T: Definitely join! If you’re on the borderline join.You won’t regret it. You’ll have really close friends even before school starts. You always have that friend group to rely on. I would say the opportunities are crazy. You’ll meet crazy famous people and you’ll get to do crazy adventures. It’s really awesome! Lastly, stay hydrated! 

Written by Alexander Castro, Assistant Director 

Major Mondays: Chemical Engineering

One of my favorite things about USC is the academic diversity of our campus. I, myself, was a student at USC a while back, and despite being a film major, I often found myself in the company of engineering students – many of whom I am still friends with today. When the opportunity presented itself years later to learn a bit more about my friends’ major, I decided to dive in and write this blog post. I will give you Major Mondays: Chemical Engineering.    

Major Overview: The Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science within the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is home to the Chemical Engineering undergraduate degree, including six different emphasis programs: Biochemical, Environmental, Sustainable Energy, Polymer/Materials Science, Petroleum, and Nanotechnology. This major is open to prospective first-year and transfer applicants.  

Current Student Perspective: The Viterbi Student Ambassadors (VSAs) produce some excellent content on their website, Viterbi Voices – including a blog and a podcast. In browsing their blog, I found so many great posts to read, but to help you narrow it down, I’ll highlight a couple posts here:  

Why Chemical Engineering? – Sheetal writes about how while her interests and professional goals changed while she was in college, she stuck with chemical engineering because of how her classes and professors made her approach challenges. She writes, “Being a chemical engineer is about learning to view the world and its problems with an analytical mindset that aims, above all, to optimize a range of different, often complicated variables.”

 The Necessity of a Good Study Group – Elena writes about the benefits of collaboration within the chemical engineering major and friendships she’s formed. She says, “Before coming to college, I knew that I wanted to study engineering in a supportive environment, and I found that in Viterbi. From doing homework to studying for exams and quizzes, I met groups of amazing people within my courses.”  

The Choice: High School Senior to USC Trojan – Jacob writes about why he ultimately decided to attend USC to pursue chemical engineering. He writes, “I soon realized what USC offered that many other schools didn’t – the opportunity to have a college education and experience defined by more than just engineering.” 

Research: Research is a top priority at the Viterbi School of Engineering, and is listed as such in their mission statement. Here are just a couple projects Viterbi students and faculty from the chemical engineering department are working on:  

Cancer treatment: “A team of research students in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science has discovered how to build on CAR T-cell therapy to also stimulate production of an enzyme that can boost T-cells’ ability to attack and destroy solid cancers.” 

Advanced Materials Research for Secure Communications: “USC Viterbi School of Engineering will lead a multi-institution center to develop new materials with applications in areas spanning secure communication, sensing, and memory and storage, thanks to $3.75M in Department of Defense funding support.” 

You can find more information and a full list of Viterbi research centers on their website.   

Outcomes: So, what will you actually end up doing with your Chemical Engineering degree? The Viterbi admission website lists some possibilities for you! 

When you graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering, here are just a few of the future career paths that might lay before you. 
  • Design and optimize cost effective ways to produce energy, drugs, plastics, and chemicals 
  • Develop new biological and therapeutic agents 
  • Establish new methods for chemical processing 
  • Find solutions for environmental problems
  • Streamline petroleum exploration and refining 
  • Create new consumer products and manufacturing systems 
  • Regulate environmental health and safety standards
  • Production, design, development, and research in all fields that involve chemical changes
  • And I couldn’t write this blog post without reaching out to the people that inspired me to write it in the first place. Two of the most notable USC “Chem E” alumni (in my opinion): 

    Daniel Harris, USC class of 2009: After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from USC, Dan went on to earn his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT. He is an author on 14 academic papers and an inventor on three patents. Dan currently works as the VP of Pharmaceutical Development and CMC at Lumicell. He says that Viterbi’s “coursework and research opportunities set me up for success in graduate school and I use what I learned every day in my job overseeing pharmaceutical manufacturing at a startup.”

    Nicholas Wright, USC class of 2012: Nick earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from USC and recently graduated from UT Austin with his MBA. He now works as a Business Operations Associate at Tesla. He sent the following thoughts on his time as an engineering student at USC and how it’s impacted his work today:  

    “The more applicable and longer lasting knowledge I gained at Viterbi has been in how I approach and structure my process for solving problems. Learning to think systematically and apply a defined structure to problems has been an invaluable tool in my career. Of course not all problems can be solved with a one-size-fits-all approach and it is at Viterbi where I first figured out, not only how to structure my process, but also when to adapt and try something new (and have the confidence to fail and learn from it too!). 

    Honestly earning my degree in ChemE was hard (I do not want to sugar coat it). There was lots of calculus, chemistry (obviously), and engineering classes that pushed me to my limits. I made many great friends in my classes though as it was only through them and our many late night study sessions that I was able to get all the concepts we covered over 4 years. Ultimately I’m glad I pursued ChemE because I love the subject (honestly) and I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of.  I remember especially loving the Solid State Processing & Integrated Circuit lab class. You get to spend time in the clean room facility as part of the class and it was pretty inspirational to see concepts we learned in the classroom be directly applied to a lab project with real world applications. 

    While I admittedly no longer use my knowledge of chemical reactor design or multi-variable calculus in my work I am still glad I did my undergraduate work in ChemE. The study habits I developed as an undergrad paid off immensely when I got my MBA and helped me land my current role. Being at a very engineering heavy company I find my background to be extremely useful. It not only gives me a sense of belonging when I am meeting with other engineers of various disciplines, but it helps me communicate and understand their struggles and needs. My Chem E degree comes in handy every day as it allows me to be the finance staff member who can speak both discipline’s “language” and bridge a gap that can otherwise feel quite wide.” 

    In conclusion, thank you for giving me the space to brag about my USC friends!  

    Want to Learn More? 
    If you want to learn more about Chemical Engineering at USC, check out the resources below:  

    Viterbi Admission Chemical Engineering Website 

    Viterbi Voices: They have a blog, a podcast, and a virtual tour video

    Follow the Viterbi Student Ambassadors and the Viterbi Admission accounts on Instagram.  

    Watch the Faculty Roundtable about Chemical Engineering on YouTube. 

    Register for a virtual info session with Viterbi.  

    Written by Hayley Camin, Associate Director 

    Edited by Nancy Ohia, Assistant Director 

    Major Mondays: International Relations (IR), International Relations – Global Business (IRGB), International Relations – Global Economy (IRGE)

    Majors: The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in International Relations (IR), B.A. in International Relations – Global Business (IRGB), and B.A. in International Relations – Global Economy (IRGE) fall within the Department of Political Science and International Relations, housed under the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. These programs are available to applying first-year and transfer students interested in pursuing careers in government, law, administration, research, public policy, and related professions. Please note: regardless of which major a student chooses, the diploma will read “B.A. in International Relations”, and the emphasis will not appear on the diploma. 

    Overview: International Relations (IR) is a constantly evolving field of study that focuses on the ever-changing world of tomorrow. The general IR major is an incredible path for students hoping to pursue future studies or work in the associated fields of political science, public administration, foreign affairs, and more. Students in this major will approach IR from various angles and have the opportunity to select upper division coursework from each of the prominent fields within IR. 

    The International Relations – Global Business (IRGB) major combines IR courses and foreign language study to explore state relations with international actors. Students will take a majority of their coursework within Dornsife, but will also pick a specialization that involves taking courses in USC’s Marshall School of Business. Note, this major is housed in USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.  

    The International Relations – Global Economy (IRGE) major combines IR and Economics coursework to prepare students for careers in foreign policy, international finance, political risk analysis, and similar fields. This interdisciplinary major is a great option for students interested in diving deeper into the social sciences.  

    Research: Did you know USC has a Center for International Studies (CIS) dedicated to research and discussions of international policy and economic affairs? Students also have access to many current projects like the Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab that explores issues relating to climate change, security, and economic development. For up-to-date information about the Center for International Studies programs, speaker series and newsletter, follow the CIS Instagram account.  

    Academic Opportunities – Study Abroad: Students studying International Relations can fulfill major requirements abroad! IR majors have the opportunity to take upper division units at another university outside of the US, and can pick from multiple institutions across five different continents. At USC, students have many opportunities to study abroad at various universities around the world. One popular option for students studying International Relations is USC’s semester in Paris, where students will focus on foreign policy while rounding out their schedule with some French courses. This option is offered for both the fall and spring semesters, with available courses like “European Interrogation” and “French Foreign Policy”. You can find more information on the program through USC’s Office of Overseas Studies page

    Want to Learn More? 
    For students interested in exploring International Relations on a smaller scale, there are two IR minors you can pick from! 

    USC Dornsife has an entire cohort of Student Ambassadors who offer insight into what it’s like to be a student within USC’s liberal arts college. Visit their website to learn more, access the student blog, and live chat with a current Dornsife student.

    Written by Natasha Hunter, Assistant Director 

    Edited by Reuben Hernandez, Senior Assistant Director