Senior Spotlight: Elly Berge

Senior Elly Berge is an advocate for taking the road less traveled. It’s a choice she took four years ago when she pivoted away from computer science as a freshman and found a home at the Academy. Now in her final year, Berge is finishing up her degree with countless memories, friendships and experiences to draw inspiration from. Read on...

Tell me a little bit about your journey to IYA? What were you looking for in an undergrad program?
I took quite a unique journey to land at IYA. I entered USC in the fall of 2016 as a computer science major. I had been coding since I was in 8th grade. I always felt that there was a part of my brain that was not being utilized by solely pursuing computer science. In my first week at USC, I was introduced to a freshman who had just started at IYA and I asked him about the program. After that conversation, I knew that I wanted to apply as an internal transfer. When I received my acceptance email, I was boarding my flight home after my last final exam, and I was exhausted. I started crying on the jet bridge and was in disbelief. I fell asleep on my flight, and when I woke up, the lady sitting next to me asked me if I was okay. I had to check the email again to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

How have you evolved over the past four years?
I’ve evolved in so many ways. . . I have discovered my passions, gained confidence, fought and lost battles, overcome challenges and become a better and stronger human being. I am certainly not the same person who moved into New North 4 years ago. I credit a large portion of this to the Academy, my family and the amazing group of people that make up my cohort. I really do not know where or who I would be today if it weren’t for what the Academy gave me on so many levels.

Describe an IYA moment that you’ll never forget.
I will never forget the first Halloween we had at the Academy. Our cohort planned to dress up as each other and Michel dressed up as Barth. It was so funny walking into class and seeing everyone taking on a new personality of someone else in the cohort. It showed how much we knew about each other and also the capacity we all had to laugh at ourselves.

What advice would you give to a freshman?
Do not be afraid to try new things and explore. Curiosity, willingness to learn, self-awareness and following your passions will take you very far in life.

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?
I will not hold back if someone says something about a person I care a lot about.

What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?
Always ask questions. The worst thing that is going to happen is that they are going to say no.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?
“A thirst for money will only lead so far — it’s love [passion] that carries you through” - Talking Heads

“You can’t do epic shit with basic people” -Pum Lefebure

What goals do you have post-graduation?
To keep doing things that I am passionate about, keep being myself, staying humble and being a badass. 

Fun Facts

What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
Laptop, phone and computer charger, notebooks (yes, I still hand write notes), my planner (aka my sanity), pencil case (ask any of my classmates, I always have pens, pencils and highlighters), air pods.

Favorite app or website?
Rent The Runway

Favorite class at USC and why?
Rapid Visualization was the most memorable and enjoyable class I took at USC. Each class felt like a new adventure and the assignments contributed to my personal and professional growth. This was the first class I had really ever taken where I was able to harness and grow my creative skills.

Favorite way to de-stress?
Walking or hanging out by the pool.

Guilty pleasure?
The song “Good as Hell” by Lizzo … play the song and maybe you will see.