Simi Situ tried her hand at a lot of things growing up in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She participated in Girl Scouts from the age of 6, performed musical theater and was the first-chair violist in the Downingtown STEM Academy High School orchestra. The international baccalaureate public high school is located about an hour west of Philadelphia, and Situ was one of three Black students in her graduating class of 200. This, she said, helped shape her college choice. “I was looking for in a college experience that invited conversations about race and then invited change to go along with those conversations,” she said.
Situ, who has declared a major in communication, is one of approximately 200 new undergraduate students who will be joining USC Annenberg in August. This summer, we are introducing some of our community’s incoming undergraduate and graduate students and sharing their journeys to USC Annenberg.
How did the part-time jobs you held in high school help change your worldview?
I’ve worked since sophomore year of high school, first as a cashier at Chili’s and then later at the Cracker Barrel. It was a very formative experience for me because before that I was caught up in the academic part of high school, and that became a huge part of my identity. So, going to work and getting to meet new people really opened up my world. It was one of the first times that I felt like I could create my identity from the ground up and who I was ‘supposed to be’ wasn’t forced on me because I was one of the only Black girls in my grade. Through junior and senior year, I started to think more critically about this, and it really informed what I was looking for in a college experience. I definitely wanted somewhere that wasn’t just diverse, ethnicity-wise, but somewhere that was also diverse in thought.
Why did you choose communication as a field to study?
Communication seemed like the perfect major because I like to think about communication as it relates to art. I’m interested in the creative process and I felt this major would help me attain a career where I could facilitate not only how art is made, but also how to better think about it and critique it. I also liked that I could take classes in public relations and journalism. Really, Annenberg as a whole school felt like a place where what I studied mattered, and the people here would do everything in their power to help me achieve what I wanted through my major.
What are you most looking forward to in the Fall?
When I came on a visit in February, I saw the recording studio in the media center, and our tour guide mentioned that they produced a bunch of student podcasts. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to start a podcast.’ This is something I could see myself spending a lot of time doing. Even when I walked through Wallis Annenberg Hall, there were a bunch of chairs and a big screen, and they said, ‘Here's where we have all of our speakers.’ I thought how amazing this is going to be, a place where people congregate to learn new things together.
USC Annenberg has a lot of research opportunities for students. Are there any that you are thinking of pursuing?
Before I was even looking into USC as a school, I read about the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. I was just researching diversity in Hollywood, because I do that in my free time, and the work that they are doing came up. It was good to see that USC Annenberg was a place that was doing a lot of research into how people are being represented in movies. Then, when I applied, I liked the idea that this school cares about the same things that I care about. And I definitely thought I could see myself contributing to conversations like that.
Anything else you want your classmates to know about you?
I’m a people person and I love hearing people speak about things they’re passionate about. I could do that all day. That’s what I seek out. Anyone can come up to me or DM me on Instagram, and I will say ‘Hi,’ and I will engage with them in an amazing conversation.