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Life at USC Studying Engineering – Dublin High School Loic Alini’s STEM Journey

July 9, 2018

DUBLIN, CA–Dublin High School Class of 2017 graduate Loic Alini is a rising sophomore at the University of Southern California (USC) and our latest Life in College Series profile. Loic, who is currently pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, shares his thoughts on the transition from Dublin High School to studying engineering at the college level. How did you choose USC?

Loic Alini: “As a senior in high school I remember agonizing over where I would spend the next four years of my life. I thought that once the long wait to find out where I was accepted was over, it would be smooth sailing. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I wanted to travel far from California so I could immerse myself culturally and better understand the nation I live in. But I also wanted to stay close to home so I could be near my family in case I needed them. I eventually chose to stay in California because I did not want to deal with frigid East Coast winters, and I wanted to go to a school that had strong ties to the tech industry that dominates where we live (especially as an engineering major).

“I had applied to USC because my dad suggested I should consider it, and I knew it had a good reputation as a school. But I fell in love when I got to visit for an overnight program after they accepted me. While I was there, I instantly fell in love with the campus and how sociable the people were. That along with its location in sunny Southern California, I was sold!” How was your transition to college?

Alini: “The transition from high school to college was more challenging than I expected. My biggest issue was managing my time, especially since my parents were not able to be there to keep me on track of my responsibilities. I struggled my first semester to reconcile all the exciting events happening on campus and in LA with my adapting to the rigor of college academics. On top of that, trying to stay competitive with my ambitious classmates for grades and campus involvements made for a chaotic and unorganized first semester. During my second semester I learned how to better prepare for my classes and manage my free time, which resulted in a much more successful semester.” What are you studying?

Alini: “I was admitted to USC to study Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), but once I got to campus and took the intro class for the major, I found myself wondering if it was the right path for me. I knew I had a knack for engineering, but the ISE discipline was not as appealing to me anymore after being exposed to the subject. For a while I was incredibly stressed out and did not know what I wanted to study. But I found solace in the upperclassman that were well settled in their majors. I organized sit down meetings with people in a variety of different disciplines, and after a period of reflections, I found that I would rather pursue a mechanical engineering degree. I wanted to pursue a degree that was more technical and challenging than ISE, and I remembered how much I enjoyed taking AP Physics with Ms. Lewis my senior year.” What have been your most memorable classes?

Alini “My favorite classes that I have taken so far are Calculus 3 and Music Philosophy. I really enjoyed Calc 3 because I enjoyed the challenge of taking everything I learned about the subject from Ms. Lawson in high school, and using it to solve three dimensional applications. Thinking about the different complex theorems was mind boggling at first, but once I got to wrap my head around it I had a blast. My music philosophy class was cool because I got to learn about so many controversial topics and interesting nuances I would have never known about the artists I love. The class not only broadened my musical horizons, but also showed me how the music we listen to can be used to sway the way we act.” What are you involved with outside of class?

Alini: “Outside of classes, I have been enjoying being involved with a wide set of activities on campus. I am a member of the USC Formula SAE Racing Team, where we designed and built a race car from the ground up for competition against other college teams across the country.

“Every week, I also spent time volunteering with A Place Called Home (APCH) to tutor under resourced kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods in South Central LA. A lot of these kids come from working class immigrant families, so I try my best to encourage these kids to try their best at school so they can be the first in their families to go to college.

“I am also a Viterbi Student Ambassador, where I represent the engineering school for the sake of admitting and retaining quality students.”

fast car What do you do to have fun in your spare time?

Alini: “When I have free time, I have found there are plenty of ways to spend it. My favorite ways to have fun include tailgating and rallying for my school’s football team, the countless social events on and around campus, exploring all the cool places and eateries that LA has to offer, and awesome concerts that happen on and off campus (most notably Lil Pump before the UCLA game in November). When I’m not slammed with midterms, I would sometimes go to visit high school friends at other colleges around Socal, and even take weekender trips to the Bay!” Any advice for high schoolers nervous for college?

Alini: “If you are a high school student who is worried about the transition to college, my advice would be to embrace everything that this opportunity will afford you. Living with 500 people of the same age in one building will introduce you to more people than you can remember. Another thing I found was that every aspect of college was intense. Classes are rigorous, extracurriculars are time consuming, and the quantity of free events and ways to socialize will leave you in awe (especially at a larger university). It will be a challenge learning, having fun, and sleeping in a perfect trifecta, but it will work out in the end!”

Alini Family

During his senior year at Dublin High School, Loic was named the Dublin Rotary Student of the Month (January), and was a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, received the Presidential Gold and Gael Scholar awards, and was recognized as a member of the National Honor Society.

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