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USC Dornsife undergraduate Melia Albrecht knows the only way to make an impact is by getting involved.

International relations major Melia Albrecht and her pal Norma, whom she befriended through Best Buddies California. Photo courtesy of Melia Albrecht.
International relations major Melia Albrecht and her pal Norma, whom she befriended through Best Buddies California. Photo courtesy of Melia Albrecht.

Melia Albrecht’s studies have taken her to South Korea, Egypt and Turkey, but Lanterman High School, just a few blocks from campus, is the place that really stands out to the USC Dornsife junior.

That’s where Albrecht volunteers with Best Buddies, an organization that fosters one-on-one relationships with people who have intellectual and development disabilities.

“Best Buddies is my favorite,” said Albrecht, a double major in international relations at USC Dornsife and public relations at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “I think it’s important that you have one organization you do just for fun — one that you do because it makes you happy.”

That’s just one of the many activities on this Trustee Scholar’s résumé, along with the USC Helenes, USC Dornsife Ambassadors, Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) scholarship program and Marshall’s Women’s Leadership Board.

“Exploring and talking to people is the best way to learn,” Albrecht said. “This is probably one of the best chances you are ever going to have in your life — to be surrounded by so many brilliant people who are all doing something different.”


Melia Albrecht is double majoring in international relations and public relations, while also completing an honors multimedia program. Photo by Madisen Keavy.

German-born Albrecht is also completing an honors multimedia program. And last semester, she spent her spring break traveling to South Korea as one of 40 university students from around the country chosen by the CIEE.

“I spent 10 days in Seoul with a host family eating the food, meeting different people and seeing new things,” she said.

Her favorite part of the experience came when she visited the demilitarized zone, which sparked the flame to continue her travels to unlikely international destinations like Egypt.

Thanks to a USC Dornsife Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) grant, she was able to do just that. She traveled to Egypt and Turkey where she met and interviewed international leaders. With a dream of someday working for National Geographic, it’s no surprise that Albrecht’s favorite interview was with the editor-in-chief of CNN Turkey.

Albrecht shows no signs of slowing down. An undergraduate scholar this year with USC Dornsife’s Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, she also has internships with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Annenberg’s “Journeys In Film” program.

But she always makes time for Best Buddies.

“Melia truly cares about each person she meets and this is easily seen through her relationship with her friend she met through Best Buddies, Norma,” said Albrecht's friend and fellow USC Dornsife undergraduate, Melina Sutton. “She could be speaking at a conference about international relations or traveling the world, but she never forgets the people who have made an impact on her life.”