Online Experience

Last summer our 2020 program was delivered exclusively online and students had a phenomenal USC Summer experience. Students in USC Summer Programs have the unique opportunity to utilize Los Angeles as a classroom from anywhere in the world.

We want you to feel at home at USC! The Summer Programs office is committed to welcoming you into the USC community and supporting you through your summer experience and journey. Your experience as a summer Trojan will be filled with opportunities for you to explore all that USC has to offer and to discover what your college journey may include.

Dive into stories from our alumni!

Oliver Munakash

Oliver Munakash

Pacific Palisades, CA

Oliver enrolled in the 2020 Exploring Entrepreneurship course.

“I have a couple family connections to USC and I’m also a fan of USC athletics, so I’m familiar with it and sort of knew I wanted to go there, but I wanted to know what a college level course would be like.”

Oliver says he knew he wanted to do the Exploring Entrepreneurship course because he’s generally a math and business oriented person and because his dad is in commercial real estate and entrepreneurship – topics he is interested in as well.

Oliver’s biggest takeaway from the program was having the mindset to put your strengths first and build your business model around those strengths.

“Something even as small as picking classes for school, you know, it made me think about what classes I’ll do well in and where I can hone my abilities that I actually care about instead of taking classes that won’t help me.”

He also mentioned that a virtual field trip with the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) stuck with him as an inspiration to never give up or think too small when it comes to your aspirations.

“They were talking about their vision for a soccer team in LA, which was a far fetched idea at the time, but you look at this wildly successful team now and it just encouraged me to always think big.”

Oliver said that the course pushed him out of his comfort zone with an interview project where they had to be persistent with a person they wanted to interview, and while he did end up connecting with his intended interviewee it definitely showed him the kind of persistence that is required in business.

Oliver is gearing up to take the SAT’s for college and is looking forward to applying to USC. While he loved being a Summer Trojan, he can’t wait to be part of the Trojan family.

Lina Jeong

Lina Jeong

San Ramon, CA

Lina participated in the 2020 Creative Writing Workshop.

She says that a desire to major in screenwriting at USC led her to choose the Creative Writing program in particular.

“Obviously USC is known for their film program but because there was no specific screenwriting course at Summer Programs I thought creative writing was a great option and down that same alleyway.”

Lina runs a magazine publication company with some of her friends and says the impact of the program on her as a writer was greater than she expected.

“I never thought writing that I learned through a school curriculum could help me in a creative way, but I’ve actually learned to understand how my creativity can be perceived by other people.”

She says that this along with many other skills from the summer programs have helped her with the magazine, as well, as some of the high school courses she is currently taking.

One experience in particular, her first time receiving detailed feedback from a college professor, opened her eyes to the reality that they just wanted to improve her work. Lina says this made taking criticism in general more productive and less intimidating, which she is grateful for.

“In particular our professor had us do breakout rooms to critique each other’s work, and it was all about being constructive and how to not be rude about it, which was amazing because it can be hard to find that line sometimes.”

Overall, Lina strongly recommends this course to anyone who is interested in hashing out all of the minor details of their writing.

“Maybe your high school teachers aren’t noticing the little things, but the reality is the professors in the Summer Programs give you a ton of individual attention so it’s incredibly helpful and productive.”

Evan Hoopes

Evan Hoopes

Pleasanton, CA

Evan participated in the 2020 Summer Theater Conservatory for Acting as a high school senior.

Even though Evan had experiences around USC’s campus and knew current students, he wanted a more in depth look into classes and student life.

“My goal is to transfer to USC, so I had been considering the program lightly, and when my dad sent me an email about the program, those two things together told me this was a great opportunity to experience more of USC.”

Evan grew up doing acting and modeling, which has more recently evolved into an interest in acting, improv, and comedy. He says this made his decision on what course he wanted to take during the program.

After attending Summer Programs, Evan started school at Santa Monica community college where he said he felt very prepared after his experience at USC Summer Programs.

“I think the program at USC, funny enough, was a lot more rigorous than here. You might assume that, but it really did make the transition easier on me.”

After he is done with his finals at school, Evan says he is traveling to film for an upcoming movie he’s in.

“I’ve definitely taken a lot of things that I learned in the program to help me prepare for this, so that has helped a lot because this is one of my first big projects.”

Evan says that while his experience in the industry did give him some knowledge of certain names and techniques, he never received any formal training.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how if I didn’t learn these things during the program, if I hadn’t taken this opportunity, I would have been behind or learning these things from the other actors on the film.”

Evan is looking forward to the possibility of transferring to USC and pursuing his career in acting.

Karyme Peña

Karyme Peña

El Monte, CA

Karyme participated in the 2020 Science of Food, Nutrition and the Biological World course as a rising junior.

“This course was perfect for me. It taught me things about food and nutrition that I have always been curious about and interested in!”

In college, Karyme anticipates pursuing a biology-related major to become a nutritionist or a pediatrician. The course, she says, cemented her interest in these fields.

What Karyme learned in high school biology was expanded in the summer course.

“I realized that the subject is so much deeper and so much more complex than what I already knew.”

In addition to synchronous online learning, students experience asynchronous instruction as well. Students were to make recipes at home, after learning the biological changes that our food experiences during cooking processes.

“This made the course so interactive, despite being online … It was such a fun way to learn about biology.”

Karyme’s favorite parts of the course were the interactive labs where she would cook a dish for her family and explain to them what she learned in the classroom.

She also gained confidence in the classroom, where she asked questions and participated extensively in discussions. With her improved confidence, she has become a youth ambassador and bettered her abilities in speech as an extracurricular activity. She also enjoys competing in soccer and track and field.

Karyme looks forward to applying to college after completing her junior year to pursue her interest in biology.

Trey Chatterton

Trey Chatterton

Tustin, CA

Trey participated in the 2020 Introduction to Business course as a rising senior.

“Choosing that program was just about the fact that I’ve always worked in business and always wanted to major in business in college, so I always felt it was important to learn more about it and enhance my knowledge.”

Before attending USC Summer Programs Trey worked at a financial firm in an introductory position to get a feel for it, but says that his experience with Summer Programs helped him advance at the firm.

“As I got more into the USC Summer Program I learned so much about the field, and that actually helped me move up to a salesman.”

In his new position, Trey has the opportunity to make sales and get clients for the company and says he puts the skills he learned in the Business program to use frequently.

Beyond learning the ins and outs of business, Trey also notes that the program gave him a different perspective on his overall work ethic.

“When you experience something this rigorous, it helps put things in perspective, and I took that back to my high school and really improved my academics there as well.”

For Trey, a standout from his summer course was meeting the founder of Vans. He had the opportunity to ask him about his experience with starting his own company.

“He said to me you have to start young. You have to have the motivation, the drive, you have to put your mind to it. He said if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything.”

Trey says this stuck with him as a key takeaway, and anytime he wants to accomplish something he reflects on this to push himself.

He said another standout and surprise was meeting the rapper Saweetie, a USC School of Marshall alumna. Even though the program was online, the course featured virtual field trips and guest speakers.

Pierce Whitney

Pierce Whitney

San Francisco, CA

Pierce participated in the 2020 Creative Writing Workshop as a rising senior.

She says that when she was told about the program, she immediately felt like it was a great opportunity for her.

“I’ve always been in love with storytelling, so I’ve always loved to write or just create stories in my free time. That’s really what lead me to the program, along with bettering my work for a possible career.”

At the time, she was interested in becoming a film director because of her passion for storytelling and movies, and she wanted to better her work.

However through her experience at the program, she learned she could combine this passion with her love for film as well through screenwriting.

“I never knew you could major in screenwriting, and during the program I was really excited writing these scripts, and that’s when I realized I could combine this love for film and this love for creative writing.”

Now she is working on screenwriting, and has been compiling several scripts and short stories to build a portfolio.

“The skills I learned from the program I am definitely incorporating into what I’m writing now and my portfolio for colleges.”

Pierce says a huge part of these skills was becoming much more meticulous in revising and reconstructing her works.

She noted that the workshop based classes, where students would provide feedback to each other helped shape her perspective on the revision process. While she initially saw feedback as destructive, she has now grown to love it.

“We were all there to get feedback, we were all there to get critiqued, whether that’s good or bad it was to help us as a writer. It was more like a discussion and very constructive.”

When asked about a standout from her student experience at USC Summer Programs, Pierce says it was getting to keep an eBook containing all of her and her classmates stories from throughout the semester to reminisce on.

But beyond that, Pierce says there was a lot more to the program as far as her growth as a writer goes.

“The program made me realize what I wanted to do and what I wanted to write, I was trying to get to the bottom of where I was going in the future and I definitely found that.”

I could not have imagined how meaningful an online course could be for my son. He learned so much and I was surprised by how much he bonded with his fellow students, given that they’ve never met in person. I can’t thank you enough for your dedication to creating a wonderful online course experience for the students.

Alicia Boyce, Summer 2020 parent