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Think Pink

Senior Surbhi Agarwal forms the student organization Trojans Preventing Cancer, then opens the nonprofit All Things Pink to raise breast cancer awareness.

Surbhi Agarwal, a biological sciences minor at USC Dornsife (right), at a local homeless shelter, where she educates people about breast cancer and brings them goodies.
Surbhi Agarwal, a biological sciences minor at USC Dornsife (right), at a local homeless shelter, where she educates people about breast cancer and brings them goodies.

Surbhi Agarwal’s devotion can be summed up in three words — All Things Pink.

That’s the name of the nonprofit the senior founded to raise awareness of breast cancer in young women. All Things Pink hosts events featuring activities focusing on the interests of young women. Agalwar knew she was on to something when her first event, Pink Up Your Life, drew 125 young women.

“We’re for young women, by young women, so we know how to communicate and talk to our generation,” Agarwal said. “I really want to push for all girls our age to be aware of breast cancer and the things they can do to lower their risk.”

Agarwal’s interest in breast cancer awareness and prevention began when she was a 16-year-old hospital volunteer working on breast cancer laboratory research. She studied how obesity plays a factor in recurrence of the disease. That interest has continued as she pursues a major at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a minor in natural sciences at USC Dornsife.

She decided to attend USC in part because of the opportunity to shadow professor Debasish Tripathy at the USC Norris Cancer Hospital and Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center.

“Surbhi has been able to weave her knowledge and abilities to drive a truly valuable effort,” Tripathy said. “She understands the biology of breast cancer genetics and knows how to apply concepts of management and inspiration in her nonprofit organization.”

Agarwal looked to Tripathy for guidance when she formed Trojans Preventing Cancer, the student organization that raises awareness of risk factors for cancer and the preventive measures associated with them. Agarwal especially enjoys visiting local high schools to teach the students how to lower their risk for cancer.

“We really focus on lifestyle factors,” she said, “like how smoking can cause cancer and how alcohol consumption increases their risk for cancer.”

But Agarwal wanted to do more: “I don’t want to just have a student organization at USC. I want it to be something bigger, and that’s how I started the nonprofit.”

Agarwal’s experiences at USC have only strengthened her desire to make cancer prevention her life’s work. She plans to pursue a master of public health and then apply to medical school with the goal of being an oncologist. The student organization she founded, Trojans Preventing Cancer, will be her USC legacy, and All Things Pink will continue to be an important part of her life.