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Hunter Brophy’s studies are in the stars, but his heart is in the sea

The first-year astronomy major, lifeguard and Navy cadet has a special connection to the ocean and the environment.

Hunter Brophy
Hunter Brophy’s admission essay was about his deep appreciation for the ocean and its preservation. (Photo/Courtesy of Hunter Brophy)

First-year astronomy major Hunter Brophy has a special connection to the sea. He grew up on coastlines with a dad in the Navy, and he starts at USC as a Navy cadet himself. His admission essay was about his deep appreciation for the ocean and its preservation.

What is one thing you brought with you that is most meaningful or representative of who you are?

One thing that I would say is most representative of me would be my pajamas. Whenever I am in my house, I’m in pajamas. It represents the laid-back and relaxed attitude that I try to flow through life with and allows me to not have to walk around my house in jeans.

What are your greatest hobbies, passions, and interests?

My greatest hobbies and interests are in fitness. I follow the bodybuilding scene relatively closely, and love learning about ways to improve the body. I also thoroughly enjoy the ocean and nature and, as an ocean lifeguard in the Monterey area, I have a close relationship with the environment. My love for the environment also fueled my intense love for sunsets.

What are you most excited to do/get involved in once school starts?

At school, I am super excited to get involved in sports. I hope to join the club wrestling team to continue wrestling, and I can’t wait to go to a football game.

Was there an impactful experience in your life that really shaped who you are today that you can share?

What shaped me today wasn’t necessarily a single experience, but instead the experiences of moving every two to three years growing up. My dad was in the Navy, and moving around with him throughout my childhood allowed me to build my social experience, and to understand myself to a greater extent as I met hundreds of people and decided which of those people to stay by as positive influences.

Describe yourself as a high school student.

As a high school student, I was too focused on work. I didn’t allow myself enough leeway to enjoy myself and have fun — which is something that I actively worked to change my senior year, and it led to a lot of growth and even further understanding of my values.

What do you think is the greatest achievement/or highest point of your life so far (personal or professional, academic)?

My greatest achievement so far has been becoming a Midshipman 4th Class in the Navy at USC. It had always been my dream to join the Navy and serve my country, following the footsteps of my family before me. It was my first large step into a meaningful life, and a step that I had been building to get to since developing that dream as a very young kid.

Why did you choose USC and what did you do when you found out you got in?

I personally chose USC for the family-type relationship everyone who goes to USC seems to have, and the idea that our excitement in our privilege to go to USC isn’t a cocky one, but an honored one. The story of my acceptance is a funny one: I was sitting around with my best friend and his brother during a trip to Tahoe to ski, and I got the email that I had been accepted. I said, “No way! I just got into USC!” and my friend simply goes, “So?” I was later attacked by snowballs outside as the rest of the group got the news, but the initial reaction was quite lackluster — but hilarious.

How do you think you will change/grow by the time you graduate?

I hope to look back on myself today and be embarrassed. I hope to continue to grow to know myself, my goals and my values to the point that what I think I know now will seem like nothing in comparison.

Where is your hometown?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I could tell you where I lived the longest, where I lived last or where I loved the most. I think that what most closely aligns is where I actually felt at home while I was there. The place that felt like home is Carmel, Calif. I think it is the most beautiful place on earth. I have seen the most beautiful sunsets disappear into the ocean from the tops of grand mountains and met the most amazing people that make you feel at home. I hope that my answer to this question might change in the coming years as I come to make L.A. my home and meet the people that I will become close enough with to call family.

Anything else?

As I was answering Question 1, what represents me or what means so much to me isn’t necessarily a physical object, but what came to mind immediately was a four-leaf clover. My mom is fantastic at finding four-leaf clovers, to the point where she can pick 5-10 out of any patch. As part of an Irish family of four, the four leaves on a symbol of Irish heritage means more to me than most can know.

Edited for length and clarity

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Hunter Brophy’s studies are in the stars, but his heart is in the sea

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