In Our Own Backyard

Welcome to the neighborhood! We are Jonna and Jen, Admission Counselors at USC and lifelong LA residents.  We are excited to tell you more about our community! While there are many neighborhoods that surround the University of Southern California (USC) campus, we wanted to highlight a few that are closest to campus and near and dear to our hearts as members of the community. So, let’s explore South Los Angeles, Exposition Park, Downtown Los Angeles, and West Adams!  

South Los Angeles 

While USC is located just a few miles south of Downtown Los Angeles, it also borders South Los Angeles. The first half of the 20th century saw an increase in the number of African American/Black people in Los Angeles, in part due to labor demands. However, racially restrictive housing covenants segregated the city and historic South Central LA was one of the few places where African American/Black people were allowed to buy homes. This area soon became a cultural hub and center for activism and continues to be community driven. The community continues to thrive thanks to the support of many local businesses including South LA Cafe which combines coffee, community, and connection.

Exposition Park  

Exposition Park is located just South of USC’s campus and the University Park neighborhood. In fact, you can access all that Exposition Park has to offer by exiting campus on Watt or Pardee Way and crossing the street on Exposition Boulevard. Originally, created in 1872 as an Agricultural Park, this 160-acre corridor is now considered “The Crossroads of the Los Angeles Community ” and features museums, sports facilities, entertainment and cultural activities. Exposition Park is home to the Banc of California Stadium, California Science Center, California African American Museum, Exposition Park Rose Garden, Natural History Museum, and the future site of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (set to open in 2023). Lastly, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is also located in Exposition Park and is the home stadium of the  USC Football team.  

Downtown LA 

USC is located in the heart of Los Angeles and is less than five miles from Downtown LA. The beginnings of the city began in the early 19th century, and Los Angeles officially became a city in 1850 with Pershing Square as its town plaza. The Civil War, World War II, and an economic rise led to a population increase that brought new development and the construction of the historic hotels throughout downtown. However, with this development and population influx, the city began to grow outward that led to a change in demographics of the city, with white elites leaving the center of the city and leaving communities of color at its core. Development continued during the 1970s and ‘80s, with the Los Angeles Convention Center opening in 1971 and the U.S. Bank Tower in 1987. One of DTLA’s most iconic landmarks, Arena (formerly known as Staples Center), opened its doors to Angelinos in 1999 and has been the home to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Los Angeles Kings. Neighboring the arena is L.A. Live, the heart of entertainment for downtown which includes a theater, hotels, restaurants, and more. Concerts, parades, anime and K-Pop conventions, and more have made their way through the historic streets of downtown Los Angeles.   

West Adams 

West Adams is located just northwest of USC’s campus and runs through Adams Street and Normandie Boulevard. It became a part of the city in 1896 and was a very popular suburb for white communities. Large homes and mansions were constructed, but were later demolished and replaced with apartment complexes once movement to the Westside began in the mid-1900s. Around the same time, the city of LA ended its racial agreements that allowed for Black Angelinos and other communities of color to move into the area and attain the same housing rights. Now, West Adams is home to Latinx communities predominantly from Mexico and El Salvador.  

Thank you for joining us on our tour today! We hope that current and future students will support and engage with USC’s local community. There are many diverse communities and opportunities for students to learn and have fun right here in their own backyard. The Trojans Shop Local Directory is a great place to start. Check it out! 

Written by Jonna German, Senior Assistant Director, and Jennifer Donis Gonzalez, Assistant Director – USC Office of Undergraduate Admission 

Transfer Talk Tuesday: Expectations vs Reality 

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note that each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

Hi everyone! My name is Savanna Fakhoury, and I am a current junior studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. I was born and raised in Southern California, and I come from a very large and fun Jordanian and Syrian family. I enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, reading, listening to podcasts, baking, going to concerts, and watching reality TV. I hope to one day become a physician and work in underserved populations, specifically within displaced refugee groups. My journey to USC was quite an interesting one, and I am excited to share a bit about my experience and what I have learned so far.  

I went to an all-girls Catholic high school and was a part of the choir group at school. Our choir group was invited to perform at USC’s Caruso Catholic Center – my first-time setting foot on what I had not known would become my home. I remember telling myself not to get too attached to the school because I did not think USC would be an option for me. That was my first expectation that was far from reality. Little did I know, I was offered an opportunity to apply to transfer to USC for my sophomore year. Although I knew for quite some time USC was for me, I was worried about not assimilating into the school well. So many questions were at the forefront of my mind. I did not know what to expect, but as I have been here for a few years now, I thought I would share some things I learned along the way.  

Expectation #1: “It’ll be hard to meet people and form connections, especially due to the pandemic” 
Reality: This is SO not true. USC has more than 1,000 student organizations and so many opportunities to find people and organizations you mesh well with. I found my home in many different places: Keck Student Ambassadors, the American Medical Women’s Association, through my research on prostate cancer at the Keck School of Medicine, and with my fellow ambassadors at the Office of Undergraduate Admission. College is what you make of it. Put yourself out there, and wonderful experiences and people will come your way.  

Expectation #2: “USC is a big school, will I get swallowed in the crowd?”
Reality: No! Professors and the university really foster a welcoming environment and give many opportunities for us students to make connections. Class sizes are smaller, and our personal educational experience is of great importance to USC.  

Expectation #3: “It’s tough finding people who have similar interests and goals.” 
Reality: Not at all! USC aims to have a very diverse and inclusive environment for all students. The 1,000+ student organizations help students find a group with similar interests and goals.  

Expectation #4: “If I struggle in school, I am on my own.” 
Reality: This is so not true! There are so many resources USC offers to give us students support. Professors host weekly office hours, many classes offer free supplemental instruction, and we have the Kortschak Learning Center to help guide and support us through our academic journey.  

Expectation #5: “It will be easy to take a full course load, be involved in many organizations, and have lots of free time to spend with friends and family.” 
Reality: In all honesty, I thought I would be able to do it all. I have since concluded that academics at USC are very rigorous, and organizations require time and commitment. I have learned that the key to balance is time management. With a calendar, planner, and an optimistic viewpoint, college life will be very fulfilling and balanced. It’s all about being open minded!  

In conclusion, we all have expectations about what an experience will be like and how things will turn out to be – in every situation, even beyond college. Expectations are comforting, as they help us mentally plan for the unknown ahead, but they are also limiting.  

There is no standardized formula to have the perfect college experience because the college experience is different for everyone. Everything that occurs is unique to our own stories and paths, in order to help form us into the humans we are meant to become.  

Attending USC has been the best decision I have ever made. I have had many expectations, some aligning and some not aligning with reality. My advice to you: just go with it and enjoy all that is to come! 

Written by  Savanna Fakhoury, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying  Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. 

Transfer Talk Tuesday: How to Get Involved on Campus 

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note that each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

My name is Nyah Gaitan and I am a junior transfer student from Glendale Community College majoring in Business Administration. As a transfer, finding my place at USC was one of my greatest worries. 

Spending my first two years at a community college made me concerned about how I would be able to catch up on the two years I would have missed as a freshman and sophomore at USC. Those two years are typically crucial for forming relationships with other students and the school itself. I had already established a group of friends, relationships with professors, and comfort in my community college. Thinking about doing it again as a transfer student only heightened my anxiety. I knew that it would take work and getting out of my comfort zone.  

Something really special about USC is that the school and the people that attend USC value the Trojan Family. From the very first moment I stepped onto campus, there was a lot going on. There were so many opportunities to meet new people, along with events made specifically for transfer students. After attending a transfer event myself, I began to realize that I am not alone in this process. There are thousands of other transfer students who are in my exact position, and all were Trojan Family members themselves. It’s hard. Meeting new people and finding my place in this new world was not easy, but there were an infinite amount of opportunities the community provided me.  

I am now a part of the Transfer Ambassador Program, the Special Events Committee, Marshall Business Student Government, and am a Marketing intern with USC Athletics. All of the activities I am a part of are related to my personal and professional interests.  There is quite literally something for everybody at USC, whether it’s student-led clubs, established organizations, or career opportunities, there are opportunities for growth everywhere. All of which can be found here: 

I got involved not only to meet new people, but to also develop my passions in my major. For every academic school/college within USC, there are events being held for professional development; such as resume reviews and networking events with experienced industry professionals. It is extremely motivating and rewarding to be around other passionate students when given the opportunity. Apart from the vast variety of educational resources, USC has fun events going on every day. To take a look at some of the many events that go on around campus, take a look at the USC calendar: From gamedays at the Coliseum and Galen Center to concerts in McCarthy Quad, there is never a dull moment at USC. 

I will not lie, the first few weeks at USC were challenging. It was difficult imagining that I would find a place in a school that was four times larger than my local community college. Your years at a university are a time for growth and development socially, professionally, and personally. Challenges are inevitable, but taking on the opportunities USC provides makes that struggle worth it. 

Written by Nyah Gaitan, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying Business Administration.