Students showcase ‘amazing’ work for top USC officials

Seven schools presented unique projects at a retreat for members of the USC Board of Trustees.

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USC students showcased everything from video games and art to peptide research and trilingual news gathering through an interactive experience aimed at highlighting student projects and their creative abilities for top school officials on April 1.

Seven schools were invited to present examples of their work at the panel, set up like a science fair with visits from some members of the Board of Trustees, school deans and high-profile officials such as Athletic Director Mike Bohn.

President Carol Folt had high praise for the students at the event, called the Amazing Trojans student panel.

“It’s been wonderful. Seeing all these students putting together these amazing games, studios, and inventions makes us all see that it’s not just us thinking about it, it’s all of you doing it,” Folt said during an interview with Annenberg Media student leaders in front of a green screen depiction of Studio C in the Annenberg Media Center.

Muna Malik, a graduate student at the Roski School of Art and Design, showcased artwork that tells the stories of people displaced from their homelands for her school’s presentation. She said she hopes the event will push trustees to further support Roski students and their artistic endeavors moving forward.

Other students also conveyed similar aspirations. Jenna Gestetner, a sophomore in the Iovine and Young Academy (IYA), was eager to share her and her peers’ work in hopes of better explaining what exactly her school does.

“I’m just excited that we get to show the work that we did and present the kind of things that we do at IYA because I don’t think that a lot of people know,” Gestetner said. “If they think they know what we do, they don’t fully understand the extent of some of the projects we work on.”

Iovine and Young is USC’s interdisciplinary school combining the arts, technology and business. Students from the academy showed their work on the Care Reimagined industry lab team, a project that involved consulting with companies to think about the future of the healthcare industry.

The other schools represented were the School of Cinematic Arts, Marshall School of Business, Viterbi School of Engineering and School of Gerontology.

The room buzzed with live pitches, art galleries and even virtual reality simulations. Students part of the Advanced Games Project, a joint venture between the Viterbi School of Engineering and the School of Cinematic Arts, presented their video game project called “Manas,” based on the Kyrgyzstan cultural poem: the Epic of Manas. And, Ana Silverstein, a Ph.D. candidate who discovered a peptide as part of her research on healthy aging, represented the School of Gerontology.

Annenberg Media staged a newsroom simulation as its presentation. In the hour allotted, seven students from across Annenberg graduate programs and majors worked together to show how they would cover stories from a variety of platforms. One of the stories from the simulation was about the Amazing Trojans event itself, and the students showed Folt and others the work on video and digital — in English, Spanish and Mandarin.

Annenberg’s Radio Executive Producer Jeffrey Lee said that not only was the event an opportunity for the board members to learn, but an opportunity for students to learn as well.

“The whole thing serves sort of a dual purpose, in the sense that the trustees were able to see the things that we’ve been producing and have been working on, and on the flip side, we were able to get a sense of how committed the trustees are to USC in keeping up with us students,” said Lee, a senior majoring in communication.

Lee described his experience speaking with members as a bonding moment: a shared love and appreciation for USC and its history.

Folt believed the event to be a success. “I loved that I got to give the overview of the university,” she said while being interviewed in the virtual Studio C. “This year, my whole goal was to make people see things they’d never seen before. So at the end of the talk, people kept coming up to me and going ‘I didn’t know [this]’ and that’s exactly what I wanted.”

The panel was part of a retreat for trustees and other top officials held in Ojai, California.