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Hey guys!!

My name is Divya Rao, and I’m a junior from the Bay Area. I’m an Environmental Studies major with a minor in International Policy and Management, which is quite a mouthful.  It’s honestly insane to think about how over half my college career is already over. But at the same time, I’m pretty happy with all the amazing groups and experiences I’ve been a part of.

My first two years at USC, I danced on USC’s competitive hip-hop team “Chaotic 3.” It was such an adventure being part of the exciting and vibrant dance community that makes up Los Angeles, and you can’t help but become best friends with the people you spend 10 hours dancing with every week. Second semester of my sophomore year, I decided to try something new with dancing, and I helped organize and choreograph for the Southern California Indo-Americans’ Annual Culture Show. There was definitely a steep learning curve going from hip-hop to trying to dance to Bollywood and Bhangra music, but I like to think that I made it work!

I’m also a proud and active member of Phi Alpha Delta, USC’s pre-law fraternity. If you’re wondering how someone who’s currently studying environmental science wants to go to law school then I have two bits of information for you:

a) Pre-law is a “state of mind” at USC, so you really can do anything and still be pre-law!

b) Environmental law is my personal career goal!!

However, I wasn’t always so sure of my career aspirations (read: freshman year). My passion for the environment and law was definitely solidified during the summer after my Freshman year, when I received SURF funding from USC to go on a research fellowship with the non-profit Blue Kitabu and study the sustainability of tilapia aquaculture in Ghana! I loved my first trip and independent research project so much that I was able to get another SURF grant to go to Kenya with Blue Kitabu to study how development problems in the Maasai Mara affect elephant poaching.

But research isn’t just confined to Africa for me. This last summer, I spent 6 weeks at USC’s satellite campus on Catalina Island at the Wrigley Marine Sciences Center. When I wasn’t snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, playing volleyball, and goofing off with the other fellows, you would probably have found me in the lab working with oyster larvae on a genetics/physiology project. While I’ll agree that these little guys don’t sound thrilling at first, what WAS exciting was changing more than 1200 liters of water every other day in tanks that are taller than I am without destroying the entire lab! It was definitely an eye-opener for me–lab science isn’t always so glamorous and high-tech, sometimes it’s messy and chaotic. Whatever I’ve been up to, it’s always been an adventure at USC, and I honestly can’t wait to see where my path leads me these last two years!

If you have any questions you can just comment or hit me up on twitter @Divya_USC, and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

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