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Student Stories

Senior Spotlight: Amanda Curtis

"I want to learn from new research, and I think there should be a solution that makes said research easier to understand.” Love of science runs deep in Amanda Curtis, and she’s passionate about spreading that knowledge as widely as possible. In her spotlight, Curtis tells us how she’s making publications more accessible, offers advice on the best tacos near campus, and lists the essential gear she keeps on her to be prepared for every situation...

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy? 

Coming from an all-science high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue STEM in some fashion, but that the traditional science world wasn’t for me. I had a passion for interacting with different communities and directing art-focused events. When I was looking for specific programs, I didn’t know which of my interests to pursue. I committed to the Academy because it didn’t make me choose just one of my passions.

Describe a passion project you’re currently working on?

For my Garage Experience, I am using interactive media to make research more accessible to audiences outside of academia. 

What inspired the project?

After writing my fair share of research papers, I grew frustrated with how difficult it is to find and digest relevant academic material. I want to learn from new research, and I think there should be a solution that makes said research easier to understand.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you?


The people who surround me, my friends and my classmates, are constantly doing new, amazing things and always inspire me to be my best self.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?

"A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities." - J. R. R. Tolkien

What advice would you give to a freshman?

For best tacos around USC: go outside of AutoZone at midnight.

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

As a child, I lived outside of Frankfurt, Germany and used to be fluent in German. Sadly, I forgot almost all of it.

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

Always consider the opposing perspective. There’s always more than one side to a story.

Fun Facts

What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?

What don’t I keep in my backpack? I always try to be prepared. Besides my school essentials (e.g. planner, notebooks, laptop, pens) I also carry around a laptop charger, phone charger, mints, ginger gum, tylenol, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer, band-aids, alcohol wipes, a Tide To Go pen, a CPR mask, and my utility knife.

Favorite app or website?

http://Rainfor.me It plays really nice storm sounds.

Favorite class at USC and why?

Global East Asia — it was a Maymester where I got to conduct an independent research project in Japan. I researched the social implications surrounding female video game players in Japan. This class really pushed my boundaries and allowed me to learn more about the problems facing Japanese women.

Favorite way to de-stress?
A cup of tea and some comedy (preferably Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Guilty Pleasure?

Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese Bites.

Thank you, Amanda! Read about Amanda's interactive media project here.