Hailing from La Cañada, the Hudnut siblings were always encouraged by their parents to pursue their own dreams and be their individual selves, and so, even though they are tight knit, each of them forged a different Trojan path.
Alexa Hudnut aims to revolutionize the world of cancer diagnosis and treatment using biosensing and photonic techniques. Olivia Hudnut hopes to influence the lives of survivors of human trafficking by pursuing a career in public service, with an emphasis in human rights law. Brock Hudnut is looking to develop, and bring to market, new materials that are more efficient and environmentally friendly, as an industrial systems engineer.
Needless to say, no one would expect that these three would come to USC and graduate all in the same year with various degrees, including one B.S., one J.D. and one Ph.D.
“My dad is the only one who doesn’t have a degree from USC and I think he was the most excited when he knew all of us would be at USC at the same time, said Olivia, who graduates with a J.D. from the USC Gould School of Law. “He’s our biggest cheerleader and is rarely seen without a USC Dad mug, T-shirt or hat…much to Brock’s embarrassment.”
Looking back on how that Trojan journey started, Olivia added, “In 2009, Alexa received her letter from USC when we were at school and had to go to swim practice. Brock called between school and swim practice and was very cagey about whether Alexa had gotten a small letter or a big letter.”
Alexa chimed in: “I remember being absolutely devastated and assumed I hadn’t been accepted. I came home to a very excited family and a massive envelope. We still have the acceptance letter signed by USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos. For me, that was the beginning of it all.”
“I don’t think we would have thought we’d all be at USC,” Brock added. “But we all had great opportunities offered to us by the school, and we just couldn’t stay away.”
“I don’t think we would have thought we’d all be at USC, but we all had great opportunities offered to us by the school, and we just couldn’t stay away.”
Since then, the trio has continued to trail blaze and make their mark, degree after degree, accomplishment after accomplishment and award after award. Alexa obtained her dual B.S and M.S. in 2013 in biomedical engineering and will be hooded on May 10 as a newly minted Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. As a student entrepreneur, she founded InDepth, a startup aiming to improve care for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with a “stud finder for arteries.” InDepth received the “Most Disruptive Award” at the 2013 USC Stevens Innovators Showcase.
In 2015, Olivia graduated with a B.A. in East Asian languages and cultures and a minor in English. This May she earns her juris doctorate.
As for Brock, he graduates with a B.S. in industrial and systems engineering and will be continuing on at USC Viterbi in the progressive degree program to graduate with a M.S. in materials science in 2019.
Among the three of them, they have pretty much exhausted the offerings of USC student clubs and organizations. In her undergraduate years, Alexa was a key member of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), SC Outfitters and Troy Camp. Her doctorate years were spent between Health, Technology and Engineering at USC (HTE@USC), EWB, Exhibit Design at the California Science Center, and the USC WiSE Advisory Board. Olivia was also involved in Troy Camp as an undergraduate as well as Society 53. She was a Korean Institute Fellow and a Polymathic Institute Scholar and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies. Brock was a David X. Marks Foundation scholar-athlete and played Division 1 water polo while immersing himself in research in the summers with Bridge Undergraduate Science (BUGS) program and in the Armani Lab during the academic year.
Speaking on what the success of her and her siblings means to her, Alexa reminisced:
“I have always felt most proud when I have attended a recognition event for one of my siblings. We’re all pretty big nerds so there have been a lot of events where they’ve (Brock and Olivia) been honored for the work they’ve done. It’s pretty special to see them contributing to the university community. We’ve all been given so much by USC – we are happiest when we can give back.”
Thinking about the most memorable shared experience the three had at USC together, Brock laughed:
“Probably when we rushed the field at the USC-Stanford game in 2013. That is one Trojan memory we will never forget.”
Brock will be staying at USC for another year to complete an M.S. degree in materials science. Olivia will be taking the California bar in July. Alexa has several offers in industry and is still deciding what she will do. For now, after nearly a decade at USC, and defending her Ph.D. thesis she just wants to relax somewhere in the California sun “where western sky meets western sea.”