Dean Yortsos welcomes incoming students and their parents. Jon Vidar photo [Click on the image to read his speech.]
He congratulated parents on their role in the accomplishments of their children, and on their own success in helping them reach an important milestone.
The welcome event for parents was followed by a wildly popular luau, and another welcome, specifically for students, two days later.
Yortsos highlighted the distinctive qualities that set the Viterbi School of Engineering apart and made it “the place to be.” These included the quality of the incoming class – the marked rise in average student SAT scores and the ratio of women and underrepresented populations --both well above the national average.
Yortsos noted that both the school and its students had expectations of one another, and commented, “If we admit a student, we know that student can handle the rigor. Then, it becomes our obligation to do everything possible to help them be successful.”
The dean also summarized the latest achievements of the Viterbi School: the school’s leadership in the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Program; the award of a national EFRC center; and the selection of two of its faculty, Andrea Armani and Ellis Meng, to the prestigious TR35 list published by Technology Review magazine as some of the world's top innovators under the age of 35. The Viterbi School was one of only two engineering schools nationally accorded that distinction. "You've come to the right place," he told the students.
Trojan mother Valerie Benzimra: “USC and Viterbi have offered our son everything we hoped for in his college experience.” Jon Vidar photo
Louise Yates, the associate dean of admissions and student affairs, also spoke and introduced her staff of Student Affairs personnel from pre-college to career services, describing their dedication to the support and advancement of the students in their school.
Valerie Benzimra followed the dean’s words with her own note of encouragement to the parents. The mother of Biomedical Engineering major Michael Benzimra, she shared her own experience of going through the uncertainty and excitement of the college process. She concluded, “USC and Viterbi have offered our son everything we hoped for in his college experience.”
The comments of the parents present echoed this high expectation for students and school alike:
Pamela Hartwell from San Diego said that the resources available at Viterbi would support the work ethic that her family values. She said her son Andy would be visiting the Viterbi career center the following day to immediately begin working hard at what he enjoys.
The McElligott family, Tina, Shannon, Charles. Jon Vidar photo
Michael and Marika Christenson from New Jersey said that USC Viterbi was the only college on the West coast to which their son Mark applied. “He stepped on campus and said ‘This is it.’”
Dean Yortsos acknowledged the high expectations of the incoming parents and students, saying that they were nothing less than the school’s own ambitions for its students: “We expect them to become leaders in today’s complex global economy.”
At the subsequent luau, students and parents relaxed in the Friday sun, ate, meeted and greeted, while Viterbi administrators and faculty introduced themselves, and talked about what had brought them to the quad as students.
Luke Lancaster from San Diego said that he came to USC Viterbi because of its reputation.
Britteny Black said that she came because Viterbi offered the combination with the business school.
Getting ready for the academic year at the luau. Jon Vidar photo.
She also came to Viterbi summer camp before applying.
Yingchao Lin majoring in Mechanical is a international student from China. He said that he came across a creative idea when he was 12 and that Viterbi would enable him to make it a reality. His goal is to start his own company within the next year. To that end he plans to accumulate a group of creative people around himself who can complete ideas through discussion.
Wang Fangda also from China is majoring in Mechanical Engineering (Petroleum). His goal is to own his own oil company and he came to Viterbi because it is prestigious and provides a good background.
Ed Bullard is a senior in Building Science, which he says is very fun because it combines architecture and structure. He was manning the tables for XE honor society and the American Society for Civil Engineers. His advice for incoming freshmen would be that it might seem tough at first but to stick with it--and to get involved. He also says it's never too early to start internships.
Senior Kyle Burnham has been in the American Society for Civil Engineers since freshman year. His advice is to take opportunities to get involved and meet people who will help you out in classes. He says to freshmen that you could be out drinking or in a basement with people you love to work with making a concrete canoe. He assured me that the canoe is more fun.