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USC 2015: The year in student stories

One in a series showcasing a year of university highlights

When you gather 40,000 of the smartest students anywhere in one place, great things are sure to happen. As we kick off our end-of-year look back at 2015, let’s start with some of the most interesting tales of Trojans doing what they do best — everything.

Wet and wonderful

2015 USC Students

Wet weather didn’t dampen spirits at USC’s 132nd commencement ceremony. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Amid the caps and gowns May 15 were ponchos and rain slickers, as rain fell on commencement day for the first time in nearly two decades. That didn’t dampen the spirits of the more than 15,000 USC graduates who got various degrees.

Students and sustainability

2015 USC Students

Student worker and environmental studies student Jessica Cohen recycles water in leftover bottles by watering the grass at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photo/Halli Bovia)

Sustainability stayed at the forefront in 2015, with the students, staff and faculty behind the university’s Sustainability Steering Committee taking the lead. Among the year’s sustainable accomplishments: transforming the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum into a “zero waste” facility and announcement of a comprehensive Sustainability 2020 plan to guide the university’s ongoing efforts.

That healthy glow

2015 USC Students

Physical exercise lights the way in a unique Health & Wellness Week class. (USC Photo/Michael Baker)

USC’s Health & Wellness Week provided a variety of ways for Trojans to get active. Among the most interesting — and interesting to watch — was a Glow Yoga session at Brittingham Field, complete with glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark body paint.

Pitch perfect

2015 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella

Members of the SoCal Vocals celebrate their International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella win. (Photo/Joe Martinez Photography)























USC’s SoCal Vocals returned to their winning ways: The Trojan singing group took the national crown at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in New York in April. Founded in 1996, the SoCal Vocals — USC’s oldest a cappella group — has won the collegiate championship four times in the last seven years

Making her mark at City Hall

2015 USC Students

USC student Karla Martinez interned at Los Angeles City Hall for the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Chief of Staff Ana Guerrero. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Some folks don’t get to City Hall until well in their career, but Karla Martinez has already been there. The USC communications major spent the summer working alongside political powerhouses like Ana Guerrero, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s chief of staff, then headed to London for fall studies. It’s been quite an adventure for the Mexico-born student who was raised by a single mother and helped support her mother and siblings while she was in high school.

Adventures in moving

2015 USC Students

Julianna Underwood of Alamo, Calif., waits to help move her sister Alysson in her dorm room in Fluor Tower on Aug. 19. (USC Photo/David Sprague)

Practically overnight, the USC campuses go from summer sleep to fall frenzy. New and returning students, family members and even USC President C. L. Max Nikias and his wife,  Niki C. Nikias, were in the thick of things on Move-in Day Aug. 19.

Wearing the colors

2015 USC Students

Students wear cardinal and gold and every other color Sunday at McCarthy Quad. (USC International Students Assembly Photo/Raul Alcantar)

Students in McCarthy Quad sported every color of the rainbow March 8 at Holi, inspired by the Hindu spring festival celebrated in many parts of southern Asia and other parts of the world with significant populations of Hindus or people of Indian origin. Participants doused each other with dry powder and colored water; some carried water guns or water balloons. The result: a colorful, fun-filled mess.

Profs as people

2015 USC Students

Ainsley Carry, USC’s vice president for student affairs, hikes with students at Solstice Canyon in Malibu during a “Peaks and Professors” event in October. (USC Photo/Tim Rue)

How can you get to know your instructors outside the classroom, as actual people and not just professors? “Peaks and Professors” is one way. The weekly trips and organized by designated student leaders, with one faculty member invited to lead the way. The year’s walks have included visits to Elysian Park, Placerita Canyon, Calabasas Park, Big Horn Mine/Mojave Desert and Sturtevant Falls/San Gabriel Mountains.

Helping teachers to teach

2015 USC Students

Joshua Ramirez works in the USC Roski sculpture yard. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

When Joshua Ramirez was in middle school, teachers didn’t understand his learning disabilities. An avid reader, he had trouble with other skills, such as counting money. Teachers made him sit by himself in the classroom and considered him a lost cause. But Ramirez confronted his own mental illness, and now he teaches educators about the issue.

Having (and being) a ball

2015 USC Students

Bubble Bowl 2015 was a soccer tournament in which students wore giant inflatable bubbles and rolled around as much as the soccer balls. (USC Photos/Gus Ruelas)

It’s one thing to kick a ball around a field; it’s another if you’re actually a ball yourself. Student teams suited up March 27 for some friendly fun in Bubble Bowl 2015, a soccer tournament in which students wore giant inflatable bubbles and rolled around as much as the soccer balls.

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