Inside a small auditorium in USC’s Leavey Library, 13 high school students applauded their classmate, Francesca Moser, as she concluded her reading. “Great, Francesca,” said their instructor Yance Wyatt, “Tell us how you kept your two voices distinct. Was it a challenge to develop two different points of view?”
Moser, a rising senior at Lakeview High School in Chicago, Illinois, was getting the benefit of personal direction in an intensive creative writing workshop offered by Summer@USC for high school students. In the four-week session in 2010, Moser and her classmates analyzed literary forms and produced their own portfolios of personal essays, memoir, and short stories.
“During the school year, it’s so hard to get specific help from our English teacher in a big class,” Moser said. “Here I learned specific tools — ‘invention techniques’ — to turn my ideas into stories and to develop them into personal essays or ‘flash fiction’ examples I am proud to share with others.”
Nicole Bessett, another rising senior from Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, concurred. “I worried about how others would react to my writing because I have never done creative writing before. But in our workshop, we were able to share our stories in an supportive, open, and respectful environment, so I found it was totally worth it to step outside of my comfort zone,” Bessett said.
The creative writing workshop is one of nine four-week courses being offered by USC College in the July 2011 Summer@USC program.
“High school students 15 years old and over can earn three units of credit in our courses which give students an introduction to some of the most popular majors and programs in USC College,” said Susan Kamei, associate dean for advanced and professional programs in the College. “This summer’s choices include Future Physicians; BodyWorks: Human Physiology in Health and Disease; Exploring Psychology; Forensic Psychology; Logic and Debate; Contemporary Pop Culture; Environmental Studies; International Relations; and Creative Writing Workshop.”
Albert Herrera, professor of biological sciences in USC College, has been teaching “BodyWorks: Human Physiology in Health and Disease” for a number of summers. “The summer program gives students an exposure to the standards and opportunities at the university level. They are able to demonstrate their interest in subjects they might not otherwise get to take in high school.”
After completing a summer program, the students will have a portfolio of their work documenting their academic and extracurricular experiences that they may reference and include in their college applications. For instance, in the “International Relations” program, students will participate in simulations and case studies, and will design a global civic initiative that addresses a pressing global problem.
The “Environmental Studies” program stresses the scientific background and critical thinking necessary to address issues such as biological diversity, ecosystems, energy sources, and water and air quality. Students will conduct field work in areas of ecological significance.
“Every year I hear from the students that the program went far too quickly, that they are sad to leave, and that the experience changed their lives,” Kamei said.
“My USC summer was a wonderful taste of college life and it got me to realize that I could go away to college,” Bessett added.
Students may live in a dormitory with a roommate, supervised by residential counselors, or may commute locally from home. All students may participate in a full social calendar of activities that include dances, movie nights, scavenger hunts, sports, and weekend excursions.
Applications now are being accepted. The financial aid application deadline is Friday, April 1, and the application deadline for domestic students is Friday, May 6. Visit summer.usc.edu to apply.
To learn more about Summer@USC, prospective students and their parents can attend “Come To Campus Day” on Saturday, March 5, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information and to RSVP, contact the USC Office of Continuing Education & Summer Programs at (213) 740-5679 or e-mail email@example.com.