USC salutatorian goes out of ease and comfort zone to just take on issues

As much as he has cherished his time at USC, Liam Tsao admits that it wasn’t always his aspiration college. Coming from Madison, Wis., Tsao explained making use of to a college in California was not the norm USC wasn’t even on his radar. But at the urging of a neighbor — a Trojan alum — Tsao made the decision to utilize.

4 years following leaving his household, good friends and every little thing he experienced regarded powering, Tsao is graduating with a diploma from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and as a salutatorian for the Course of 2023.

“It’s all continue to sinking in,” Tsao explained. “I resolved to depart property for the 1st time and give this a go, and I’m just so glad I did.”

USC salutatorian: Having the danger and diving in

Tsao stated that if he was heading to pack up and go to school practically 2,000 miles absent, he was going to research anything that interested him and acquire full edge of what the university has to offer you. As a historical past and social sciences big with an emphasis in economics and a slight in marine biology, Tsao reported that the interdisciplinary training at USC was the strongest offering issue.

I’ve gotten to choose lessons all in excess of the position. USC tends to make it seriously simple for that to come about.

Liam Tsao, USC salutatorian

“One matter that I genuinely valued about my USC expertise is that I have gotten to just take lessons all in excess of the spot,” Tsao claimed. “USC would make it truly uncomplicated for that to take place.”

A lot like many others in the Class of 2023, Tsao saw the COVID-19 pandemic toss a wrench into his regular college expertise. He only experienced one particular comprehensive semester on campus right before he was pressured to head back again to Wisconsin for roughly the upcoming calendar year and 50 %.

Most could possibly have felt disconnected from a college and classmates that ended up so much away, but Tsao built it a place to grow to be familiar with corporations on campus as early as attainable.

He realized he wanted to get included with organizations that target on coverage, so he instantly joined the Roosevelt Network at USC, a progressive feel tank on campus.

“That’s a seriously cool group that served me 1st define what plan was, but then I also discovered how to strategy these challenges from a truly structural perspective,” Tsao mentioned.

He also joined the governing board of the USC Norman Topping Scholar Aid Fund, the student-funded and -administered scholarship for 1st-generation and very low-money students.

“I arrived into college with no curiosity in any respect in academic equity perform,” Tsao mentioned. “But it’s just been such a transformative expertise for me that really reshaped how I believe about fairness, how I believe about accessibility and how I believe about social plan.”

That practical experience furthered his curiosity in social plan, which eventually led him to an internship in his property state with the Democratic Occasion of Wisconsin. That internship in the end led to an additional with then-U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, now Los Angeles’ mayor.

“That was an incredible practical experience,” Tsao reported. “It genuinely did fortify my enthusiasm for public services and plan that addresses these intersectional, systemic difficulties.”

Classes figured out and the street ahead for USC salutatorian

Maybe most importantly, Tsao credits individuals internships, corporations and his time at USC with creating self esteem in himself. With out these things, he’s not absolutely sure if he would have branched out of his convenience zone and taken on leadership roles or specified public displays.

“I did not arrive into USC currently being tremendous assured in my general public speaking capability — I was just a very anxious freshman,” Tsao claimed. “I really valued individuals encounters and valued all the aid I gained from folks, since it gave me self-assurance relocating forward.”

I’m heading to miss Los Angeles, but I’m also extremely excited for what comes subsequent.

Liam Tsao, USC salutatorian

Tsao stated that as soon as the dust from graduation settles, he’s likely to just take some time to relax in advance of studying for the LSAT. He hopes to inevitably go to law school — the USC Gould College of Regulation is on his brief list — but his instant prepare is to return to the Midwest and take pleasure in some time with household and mates.

Tsao said he needs to go on alongside the route of policy, neighborhood organizing or legislative get the job done in possibly Wisconsin or Washington, D.C., in advance of making use of to law university.

“The Midwest is exactly where my loved ones is it is been tricky to be absent from them,” claimed Tsao, who described graduating as bittersweet: “I’m heading to overlook Los Angeles, but I’m also extremely psyched for what arrives subsequent and how these relationships I have designed listed here evolve.”

Much more stories about: Commencement 2023, Learners