FRESH Encounters: Edward Chanquin

A young man sits between his parents, grinning as he holds up two hands in the "Fight on!" handsign. All three wear USC sweatshirts

Edward Chanquin joins the Academy this fall as a South L.A. local, engineer and first-generation student. He has extensive experience with robotics and technology and hopes to expand his skills in computer science during his time at USC. Chanquin is a graduate of USC’s Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative, the university's premier college access program. He also won the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship, which provides 100 incoming college freshmen from underrepresented communities with $40,000 and a guaranteed paid Amazon internship for their first summer. 

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy. What were you looking for in an undergraduate program? 

My journey to the Academy began with a last-minute application because I found out way too late about it for my own good. I was immediately pulled into researching the program because it seemed like I could do engineering and business together, which was what I wanted in a major. However, when I saw that there was an art portfolio requirement, I was unsure of applying because I wasn’t too adept at drawing or designing. Despite that, I gathered my courage to apply because I realized that Iovine and Young wasn’t just looking for designers, but creative thinkers from different interests and backgrounds, which I could potentially fit into. 

What are you most looking forward to in the Academy? 

I’m looking forward to the education I’ll receive because coming from both a public school and an underserved community, it’s like a dream come true to use the latest technology, have access to the best teachers, and exceptional resources. Also, meeting new people from different backgrounds that come from across the country and beyond keeps me excited as well. 

What are three goals you want to accomplish during your time at the Academy and USC? 

  1. Expand my coding knowledge
  2. Study abroad in Japan
  3. Discover more about myself

Let’s say you were miraculously provided $1,000,000 in seed funding tomorrow. What would you create? 

I would like to create a non-profit organization that helps the low-income community dissipate the barriers we have in technology access. Born to a low-income family myself, I’ve worked with a computer without access to the internet. Hopefully, I can help out my community with its technological disparity. 

What is a good piece of advice you've received that you plan to apply throughout college? 

One piece of advice that I will forever tell myself when I feel stressed or tempted to give up is that I worked hard and I earned the spot I am in — not mere luck. Despite the struggles and mistakes we make, we deserve to be where we are right now. By moving forward, we will get to where we want to be in the future, and realize our success at the end of the day.

A young man smiles as he sits holding a novelty check for $40,000 for the "Amazon Future Engineer College Scholarship"

What is your proudest achievement to date?

My proudest achievement is receiving the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship. Not only did this help me secure my biggest goal which was to go attend college debt-free and not bother my parents for any loans, but it also gave me the reassurance that what I accomplished in high school was worthwhile. 

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you.

One thing most people don’t know about me is that I’m social. Say “Hi” to me, I don’t bite!

What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share? 

My parents taught me how to balance working hard on my studies and enjoying the time of my youth. I know that my parents have done the best they can for me and being a first-generation student can be daunting, so I didn’t think I could have time for anything outside of school. But instead, they gave me freedom, and I’m grateful for that because I learned balance. 

Out of the five traits of a Trojan, which trait best describes you?

Ambitious, because I have dreams to catch.

A young man sits on an outdoor bench and gives a "Fight On!" handsign


What is one skill/thing that you learned during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

I learned how to make presentations using Canvas – they turned out so aesthetically pleasing.

What is your favorite app/website and why? 

Crunchyroll, self-explanatory. 

If you could be any kitchen appliance, what would you be and why? 

I’d be a coffee maker, so I can taste my favorite drink from home … Sorry South L.A. Cafe! 

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Listening to Romeo Santos and vibing with it too much that I start dancing.

What inspires you?

What inspires me are not only the sacrifices my parents made to come here to the United States from Guatemala and El Salvador, but also the statistics and norms in society that suggested I wouldn’t make it out of high school or college just because I am a minority and Hispanic. Those stereotypes of people of color want me to prove them right, but instead they give me the determination to achieve more and show that they’re wrong.

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