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USC Class of 2017 comes from far and wide

Incoming freshmen engage in a group discussion at orientation. (USC Photo/Lillian Insalata)

Hailing from all over the nation and around the world, the newest members of the Trojan Family are anything but ordinary. Selected from a pool of 47,300 applicants, the admitted freshman class boasts a nonweighted 3.8 GPA and SAT scores of 2040-2250. Representing all 50 states and more than 50 countries this fall, these freshmen bring a diversity of experiences, intellectual integrity and personality to USC.

75 films and counting

Robert Smat, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, has been making films since he was 10, and he estimated that he has produced more than 75. This past year, he produced, wrote and directed Group Project, a feature-length mockumentary he has submitted to film festivals nationwide. Smat was drawn to the USC School of Cinematic Arts for its reputation as “the best film school in the entire world.” When asked about his post-USC plans, USC, Smat responded, “Put me down as working on Star Wars.”

Proving her point

Lorelei Christie, a Trustee Scholar from Fairfax, Va., had two jobs in high school — one at Carvel Cinnabon and the other as a tutor. As the head manager of her high school’s Writing Center, Christie extensively researched tutoring pedagogy and the “rehumanization of our educational system.” She has given presentations at national conferences on nonhierarchical, noncompetitive learning environments for teachers, tutors and administrators. Christie is majoring in philosophy, politics and law at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences because, she said, “I have this obsession with proof.”

WHO hopeful

Kshitij Kumar is a self-described “bio-nerd” from Ferndon, Va., who will major in international relations and global health at USC Dornsife. Fluent in French and Hindi, Kumar served as an intern for the U.S. State Department’s Office of Language Services, which included accompanying a French-speaking delegation to Africa. At his high school, Kumar helped establish Humanity Plus, a club where members could “talk about medical ethics and how technology is becoming symbiotic with humanity.” His dream job is working for the World Health Organization.

Teen cancer survivor

Jordan Hancock had just finished swimming at the 2012 Olympic trials when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Hancock, from Sugarland, Texas, then underwent a complete thyroidectomy and the removal of 24 lymph nodes. In the midst of grappling with health issues, Hancock took four Advanced Placement classes and applied to 16 universities. “I’m someone who likes to try to accomplish things on my own,” Hancock said. “I’m a capable person when I persevere.” Hancock will continue to fight on as a premed mathematics major at USC Dornsife and hopes to explore computational oncology at USC.

Vivacious violist

Benjamin Chilton went from playing piano to violin to viola, which ultimately led him to the USC Thornton School of Music. Hailing from Lewisville, Texas, Chilton is attracted by the weather and cultural opportunities of Los Angeles, and is eager to experience life as a musician in a bustling urban center. When it comes to picking a favorite composer, Chilton said, “That’s like choosing a favorite candy — there are too many good ones.”

Languages and laboratories

Ines Guinard is quadrilingual, having lived in Spain, France, Italy and Davis, Calif. The polyglot will be majoring in biomedical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and has already acquired practical experience through an internship in the UC Davis biomedical engineering lab. Guinard chose USC because she was “impressed by how enthusiastic the faculty and students were about USC,” the high-quality athletics and the large number of international students.

From Nigeria to Washington to USC

Chetachinyere Okereke, a daughter of Nigerian immigrants, is interested in pediatrics and also African-American studies. While completing the academically rigorous international baccalaureate program at her high school, Okereke recalled that, “for any major papers we ever had to do, I wrote on something from African-American history.” In her hometown of Edmonds, Wash., Okereke volunteered as a tutor and mentor to schoolchildren and assisted ICU patients at Swedish Hospital. Okereke is majoring in biology at USC Dornsife.

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USC Class of 2017 comes from far and wide

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