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Dornsife Interns

Ehrenstrom Elder

Major: Philosophy, Politics and Law

Year in school: Junior

Hometown: Los Altos, CA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the diverse range of opportunities and the flexibility to pursue a variety of interests.

My dream job is: to be a lawyer for Google or to play Major League Baseball.

My favorite USC memory is: the first play of the first USC football game my freshman year. Matt Barkley connected with Marqise Lee for a 75-yard touchdown, and I — along with ninety-three thousand other fans — went wild.

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: a kangaroo, for three reasons. One, I would love to see Australia. Two, they can jump like Michael Jordan. And three, nobody messes with a kangaroo.

My favorite viral video is: Kyrie Irving's "Uncle Drew" series.

My favorite class at USC has been: Law 300 with Professor Garet. It was a great introduction to legal reasoning, and it changed the way I see rules and laws.

One of my favorite movies is: The Shawshank Redemption. It's the only movie I have liked as much as the book. 

Emily He

Major/minor: Biological Sciences major; Popular Music Studies minor

Year in school: Junior

Hometown: Cerritos, CA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the diversity! The range of interests and personalities add depth to the Trojan Family. I love being a part of a community in which everyone is so motivated and passionate.

My dream job is: to work for the CIA. There wouldn't be an "ordinary" day on the job!

My favorite USC memory is: seeing my parents sing along to the Fight Song for the first time. Even though they were off-pitch, I was very proud to see them so enthusiastic.

My favorite spot on campus is: the philosophy library. It's my secret getaway. It's a peaceful, secluded space enveloped in magnificent architecture and hidden behind a quaint garden.

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: a giraffe, because I always wanted to be tall.

My favorite place to eat in LA is: Magee's Restaurant at the Farmer's Market on 3rd Street. I'm in love with their corned beef!

My favorite class at USC has been: my freshman seminar "AIDS in the USA". It not only opened my eyes to AIDS but also formed a sense of community amongst my classmates, the professor, and our guest speakers.


Meghan Heneghan

Major/minor: International Relations major; Environmental Studies minor

Year in school: Senior

Hometown: Ellicott City, MD

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the flexibility of interests and academic disciplines. I've taken such an interdisciplinary array of courses in many different departments that all still fulfill my major and minor requirements (and had time to sample courses when I wasn't sure what my major would be). I also love the close-knit community and attention that comes from small class sizes. You not only engage so much more with your coursework but also develop close relations with professors and other students in your field. 

My dream job is: This is a tough one! I would love to somehow address environmental health issues around the world. Environmental issues transcend geographic or political boundaries, so bridging that gap is an engaging and increasingly necessary field of work. 

My favorite USC memory is: the two summers in a row spent traveling with professors and a small group of students to various corners of the world studying international environmental issues. One summer I was in the Arctic Circle of northern Finland with reindeer; the next I was 60 feet underwater SCUBA diving with sharks in Palau. Passionate professors and the availability of funding makes these types of incredible academic adventures all the more possible.

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: an owl. I've always felt it embodied my spirit, and not to mention I'd get to stay awake all night. And rotate my head 270 degrees.

My favorite spot on campus is: the grassy knoll near McCarthy quad. It is the highest ground level on our campus, which I find funny. It's also the perfect spot to lay with a good book on a sunny day, to picnic, to people watch, or even to sneak in a nap if you're desperate.

My best ever vacation was: a road trip I took with my friends this past spring break. We piled into a big rental van and drove to the Grand Canyon and southern Utah for a few days and nights of backpacking. It was nice to see an absolutely clear sky at night.

My favorite class at USC has been: my Thematic Option course, CORE 112 (the GE equivalent to WRIT 340). The entire course dealt with experimental time narratives, meaning every work we read or watched incorporated aspects of non-linear time. Whether flashbacks, time travel, futurism, backward storytelling, or even a jumbled storyline (like in Slaughterhouse-Five). The class was an intensive, round-table style course delving into all aspects of human interpretation of time through great books and films; it was also a creative outlet to experiment with alternative storylines in my own writing. 

Leigh Jacobson

Major/minor: International Relations major; Global Communication minor

Year in school: Junior

Hometown: Tarzana, CA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: how many major/minor and travel options I have — it's overwhelming in a totally great way! I also love how many advisors I have looking out for me; I have a major advisor, two minor advisors, a study abroad advisor, a career advisor, a pre-Law advisor, etc.

My dream job is: working for a private security consulting company on counter-terrorism. 

My favorite class at USC has been: IR 304: Espionage & Intelligence. My professor is a retired CIA agent and provides compelling personal insight into work in that field. Additionally, we read fascinating case studies and learn the tools of intelligence analysis. We also examine the intelligence services of foreign countries and how their methods differ from ours — it's pretty awesome. 

If I could be any animal for a day, I'd be a: shark. No one messes with sharks. 

My favorite spot on campus is: the Campus Center at night. It's all lit up and the fountains are running, making it a relaxing and scenic late-night study spot. Plus, there's coffee and snacks nearby at Seeds until late.

One of my favorite books is: Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad. (See a trend here?)

My favorite USC memory is: the moment I decided to join the Trojan family. I remember it vividly: I was at Explore USC with my parents, and the USC Marching Band was playing in the background as the Admissions team welcomed us to the community. At that exact moment, I felt as if I was exactly where I belonged. 

Kathryn Kelly

Majors: International Relations and Creative Writing double major

 Year in school: Sophomore

Hometown: Ewa Beach, HI

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the endless opportunities it offers. Everything from study abroad options and Problems Without Passports to flexibility between majors and the ability to double major in two subjects that I am intensely interested in. I continually have the chance to explore more and more of my interests. Also, I have had the chance to work with incredible professors and get individualized help that has been invaluable to my experience so far.

My dream job is: to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations while writing fictional novels in my free time — or become the next Samantha Brown (in "Passport to Europe").

My favorite USC memory is: Light Up The Coliseum. What an incredible way to start my freshman year.

My best ever vacation was: going to Australia with my family! We got to see Darling Harbour, and I probably recited P. Sherman Wallaby Way, Sydney about 800 times.

My favorite spot on campus is: The Mudd Hall of Philosophy library! I feel like I'm at the Hogwarts I never got invited to. 

My favorite class at USC has been: I love my English Literature Since 1800 class, and International Relations 210 has challenged me in countless ways. Plus my Classical Mythology class was pretty much the coolest thing ever. I can't choose just one!

One of my favorite books is: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (and the Harry Potter series, of course).

Katherine Lee

Majors: International Relations and Philosophy, Politics, & Law double major

Year in school: Sophomore

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. I love how Dornsife offers majors, such as mine, that include multiple disciplines and encourages students to learn a vast set of skills. This type of learning allows me to apply lessons from one class to those of another.  

My dream job is: to work as a pro bono attorney in New York City, assisting those who do not have the means to defend themselves.

My favorite USC memory is: rushing the football field in the Coliseum with my best friend after defeating Stanford by one field goal this past homecoming game. It was such a rare experience that I will never forget. 

If I could be any kind of animal for a day, I would be a: kangaroo. It would be so convenient to have a built-in pouch and to be able to bounce around everywhere.

My favorite spot on campus is: Ground Zero. Its milkshakes are the bomb and the atmosphere is great for kicking back with friends, listening to some great slam poetry and music, or watching a hilarious improvisation show.

My favorite place to eat in LA is: Syrup in Downtown LA. They have the greatest grilled cheeses — both sweet and savory — as well as a delicious array of desserts. From truffles to waffles to ice cream sundaes, Syrup has it all!

One of my favorite movies is: The Notebook. Even though I know what is going to happen, the movie still makes me cry every single time, and at the exact same moments. I guess I am just a hopeless romantic.

Caleb McCracken

Majors: Philosophy and Spanish double major

Year in school: Junior

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the enormous range of people and opportunities! So many majors! So many minors! So many different programs to get involved in! It's crazy! It's awesome! It's... Dornsife!

My dream job is: a professional bedazzler. I don't think that's a real job though, so maybe a lawyer, but I'd only have to represent crafting companies, and they'll pay me in sequins and hot glue. 

My favorite spot on campus is: the baseball field at around 2 AM — it's totally silent, there's an enormous amount of open, green space, and there's even enough lighting to study if you get tired of the libraries.

One of my favorite books is: 100 Years of Solitude. I was genuinely depressed for about a week after reading it because I didn't think I'd ever be able to find another book as spectacularly written as it was.

My favorite USC memory is: It's almost impossible to nail down one memory in particular, but I had a passionate love affair with brunch at EVK (a freshman dining hall) every Saturday my first year here. After a really long week, there was no better place to catch up with friends and overload my body with too many delicious, delicious carbs.

One of my favorite movies is: Spirited Away. It's so artful and beautifully whimsical. It also never fails to make me appreciate the fact that my parents never got transformed into giant pigs. 

My favorite place to eat in LA is: La Barca. You can get a delicious, authentic-tasting burrito the size of a baby for about $8!


Samhita Nanduri

Major: Cognitive Science

Year in school: Junior

Hometown: Union City, CA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the general education requirements, because they allow me to explore other interests. As a pre-med student, I never expect to enjoy (let alone even take) an art history class!

My dream job is: to work in pediatrics. I would love to do something along the lines of "Doctors Without Borders".

My favorite spot on campus is: the balconies on the third and fourth floors of the School of Cinematic Arts complex. The views are great, and hardly anyone knows they exist! It's the perfect atmosphere to study or read.

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: a horse, because they are perfect in every way.

One of my favorite books is: Jane Eyre. I also love Pride and Prejudice. Let's just say I'm a hopeless romantic.

My favorite viral video is: Sweet Brown's interview, famously known for the phrase, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

One of my favorite movies is: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The original is so much better.

Maariyah Patel

Majors/minor: Neuroscience and Health Promotion/Disease Prevention double major; Entrepreneurship minor

Year in school: Sophomore

Hometown: Fullerton, CA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the vast number of opportunities offered to explore all types of interests. The classes are very interesting and interactive — you really get to know your professors and classmates. Dornsife professors are so invested in their students, which is so inspiring. I also love the availability of advisors helping me accomplish my academic and personal goals!

My dream job is: a pediatric neurologist! I love working with children, and the mind fascinates me. My ultimate dream is to establish a practice to provide medical services to the underserved.  

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: None. I'm deathly afraid of all animals!

My favorite spot on campus is: Heritage Hall. A hidden gem on campus, Heritage Hall is the perfect place for late-night study sessions or people watching with friends on a sunny day. It has lots of space, comfy chairs, great lighting, and a nice view. 

My favorite class at USC has been: Religion 137: Introduction to Islam. I loved this class so much. The class was taught my an amazing, passionate professor and filled with students of varying ethnic and religious backgrounds. Lectures and discussions were always thought-provoking. It was the perfect way to learn about a controversial topic and clarify misconceptions. It is also a general education class! I highly recommend it to everyone. 

My favorite place to eat in LA is: I am still in search of my LA food spot! (Any suggestions?)

One of my favorite movies is: She's the Man. It always makes me cry of laughter. 

Maria Phoutrides

Majors: International Relations and Art History double major

Year in school: Senior

Hometown: Portland, OR

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: all the opportunities available for students outside of the classroom. I've enjoyed participating in research with the Art History department in Rome and working with the surrounding community in Los Angeles through the Joint Educational Project.

My dream job is: to be a curator at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

My best ever vacation was: this past spring break when my friends and I drove up to Vancouver, Canada. It was so much fun seeing the Pacific Northwest and driving the whole way!

My favorite spot on campus is: Literatea Cafe, because the courtyard is a great place to study on a sunny day or just to grab some coffee and hang out.

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: a flamingo, because they seem like kind of a goofy bird that's always having a good time. Plus I've always wondered what it's like to try to balance on such thin legs.

My favorite place to eat in LA is: Bottega Louie. Definitely order the Portobello fries for an appetizer and the chocolate souffle for dessert! 

My favorite class at USC has been: my Category V General Education class, "Literature and Empire". The class only had twenty students, so there was lots of discussion. We talked about how various pieces of literature (from folk tales to movies) influenced and traveled through empires. It was a great way to learn about history while reading and watching amazing pieces of art.

James Toh

 Major/minor: Health & Humanity major;Health Care Studies minor 

Year in school: Sophomore 

Hometown: Irvine, CA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the incredible diversity of the people that I meet. I have met a variety of people from a wide range of different sizes, shapes, personalities, etc.; however, no matter who I meet at Dornsife, they all have two traits in common: They are all accepting of new people, and they all have something profoundly unique about them. I've met people who are extremely talented in the arts or in sports, but that isn't what makes them so awesome. It's the accumulation of everything about their individual selves (including their dreams and aspirations) that make them so interesting. 

My dream job is: to become a doctor. I've always wanted to help people and becoming a doctor seems like the perfect way to do it. At first I wanted to be an emergency room doctor. This type of doctor was perfect for my aspirations; it required that the person be a "jack-of-all-trades" in medicine in order to assess a patient's injury. However, ever since coming to USC, my interest in neuroscience has flourished. I blame it on my freshman biology classes and the professors that taught them; they were so enthusiastic about the subject and showed me how neuroscience was related to many current medical problems. Although I still strive to become an ER doctor, I hope to be able to delve into the field of neuroscience in my future.

My best ever vacation was: actually during the spring break of my freshman year at USC. My roommate, another friend, and I road-tripped up to Vancouver, Canada from Los Angeles, and needless to say, it was one amazing journey. Driving on the Oregon coastline, camping in the Redwood Forest, snowboarding on Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, going to Science World, and so many other things made the trip so incredible. Even the 20-hour drive between Vancouver and Los Angeles was enjoyable as my friends and I blasted the song "Chocolate" by the 1975 on the freeway. The trip was so worth it, and I recommend that everyone do it once in their lives.

My favorite spot on campus is: besides my bed, the Philosophy Library in Mudd Hall. The atmosphere is hauntingly beautiful; you can almost smell the knowledge in the air. Furthermore, it is one of the few places that is not bustling with activity. The sound of one's breath might be the loudest thing in the room. It is the perfect place for a respite from all the activity in the life of a Dornsife student.

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: a kangaroo. It would be awesome to have super buff legs and be able to jump 10 feet high and 30 feet long. I could play fight with my kangaroo friends and kick them with both feet as I briefly balance on my tail. Also, I would have a tail. How cool is that? 

My favorite class at USC has been: PHIL 262: Mind and Self. I had never taken a philosophy course before college, so it truly was an enlightening experience. It was similar to an English/writing class but had its own unique feel to it. The material was profound, and I was subjected to ideas and ways of thinking unlike any that I could have even imagined. The craziest part about it was the papers. They only consisted of two things: thinking and writing down what you were thinking. I was always thinking about the prompts and how I would answer. I even bothered my roommate and had many philosophical discussions with him over dinner. It was a difficult but very fun class, and it provided me with something fresh out of the sciences in my pre-med based education.

One of my favorite movies is: The Lego Movie. I recently watched it and was enraptured in its world. There were so many goofy plot twists that kept me laughing. The interactions among the characters were hysterical, and I loved how the animators could put the perfect reactions on the faces of the Lego people. The music was extremely entertaining and needless to say, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! (That was a reference to a song from the movie. I'm sorry if that startled you.) Anyway, I thought the movie was going to be silly and only kids would laugh at its jokes. This turned out to be true, but it was the 10-year old kid in me that was having a blast.

Christine Vargas

Majors: International Relations and Spanish double major

Year in school: Senior

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

My favorite thing about USC Dornsife is: the flexibility for students to take classes in different areas of study. Students are encouraged to double major or triple minor in different fields. Additionally, the school offers various programs for students to study abroad and grow as individuals. The opportunities are endless with Dornsife. 

My dream job is: working with a non-profit, educating children and their communities around the world about important health and societal issues. I believe the first step to change is through education.

My best ever vacation was: to Maui, Hawaii. My family and I snorkeled with turtles, went on a zip-line expedition, and even learned how to surf! I love Hawaii's culture and rich history, as well. 

If I could be any animal for a day, I would be: a baby panda. They eat, sleep and play all day. I feel that they are very in tune with my calm, yet fun personality.

My favorite class at USC has been: Sociology 155: Immigrant America. I gained a better understanding of immigrants and how or why they assimilate into a society. My grandmother is an immigrant, and it was interesting to see common patterns between her story and the stories of other immigrants. 

My favorite place to eat in LA is: Little Tokyo. So much good food! I especially like the udon.

My favorite spot on campus is: Founders Park. It’s peaceful and shady; a perfect stop to take a lunch break in between classes. The squirrels offer great entertainment.

One of my favorite books is: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.