Skip to main content

A World of Difference

Writer Allison Doyle finds more than an education in USC College. She finds herself.

Allison Doyle (middle) shares a laugh with Saxon Burns, also a student in USC College's Master of Professional Writing program, and Kate McCarthy, whom she's been friends with since their undergraduate days as English majors in the College. Photo credit Pamela J. Johnson.
Allison Doyle (middle) shares a laugh with Saxon Burns, also a student in USC College's Master of Professional Writing program, and Kate McCarthy, whom she's been friends with since their undergraduate days as English majors in the College. Photo credit Pamela J. Johnson.

Growing up in Omaha, Neb., as an "insider-outsider," a Korean adoptee raised in an otherwise genetically-connected family of five, I discovered that writing was a way to organize the thoughts and ideas whirling around in my head.

At elementary through high school, one constant question was, “Where are the Asians?” I could count the ones I knew on one hand. At home, my family was so open about my heritage I never felt different. But at school, everyone seemed preoccupied with identifying my race and religion. Why were these terms so important?

When it came time to look at universities, my eyes wandered as far from the plains of Nebraska as they could go — to a place where I had glimpsed diversity as a child: California.

My father told me about USC. My grandfather had attended USC for about three years before leaving to take a job.

“Jobs were hard to come by during the Depression,” my father said. My grandfather was unable to return to finish his degree after World War II broke out.

“He always talked about USC favorably,” my father said.

I checked it out for myself. And after visiting campus and speaking with counselors and students, I knew USC was where I belonged. Not only was I amazed by the diversity of students, professors and staff, but I felt comfortable as I walked around campus and spoke with people. I was impressed by the variety of departments and expertise of the professors within USC College, especially in the Department of English. I knew I wanted to focus on fiction writing, and an English major offered a creative writing emphasis. I also knew I wanted the freedom to study a variety of interests, and the College encouraged such pursuits. I graduated with an English degree with an emphasis on creative writing, and minors in international relations and religion.

The four years I spent as an undergraduate at USC College not only provided me with the education and experience I wanted from a university, but I developed a strong group of friends working toward similar goals. When I decided I wanted to attend graduate school, the College was the natural choice. I considered myself a burgeoning professional writer and wanted to increase my experience and expertise in nonfiction, poetry and other writing genres. The Master of Professional Writing (MPW) program in the College offered such an opportunity.

Already a member of the Trojan Family, I knew I would be surrounded by passionate, intelligent professors and peers who would not only help me become a better writer, but would also become my friends and be part of my professional network once I obtain my graduate degree in May.

My time studying at the College and living in Los Angeles has given me the chance to pursue my lifelong passion and to immerse myself in a community that I dreamed about as a child. An ethnically, culturally and ideologically diverse city that recognizes — no thrives, in its heterogeneity.