Senior Hanna Endrias came to Los Angeles for college from Washington, D.C., eager to get out of “her bubble.” It worked; and then some. During four years at USC as a computer engineering and computer science (CECS) student, she found a support system of great friends, roommates, dance partners and professors who helped her make the most of her experience and encouraged her to finish strong.
While learning about the “wonderful world” of computer architecture and software development, she took dance classes, ranging from ballet to hip hop, and was part of the USC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team. A passionate linguist—she speaks Spanish and Amharic, an Ethiopian language—she jumped at the opportunity to study abroad in Zaragosa, Spain, from 2016 to 2017, where she fell in love with flamenco dance. Back at USC, she served as vice president of the award-winning USC Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). After graduation, she will join Microsoft as program manager, working with designers, developers to identify problems and bring solution to life.
We caught up with Endrias to learn more about the people who helped make her university experience special and her advice for future students as they embark on their own journeys. Some answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
From your time at USC, what will you carry forward into the next chapter?
I will always think of this as a chapter of growth and learning—a time of exploration, curiosity and warmth from all of the relationships I fostered along the way. It’s impossible to pick one memory, from the late-night study sessions, the NSBE tournaments and bonfires, the monthly salsa nights… I’ll definitely look back on all these memories with joy in the future.
An important part of college is finding a community of people to support and encourage you. Who was in your herd at USC and how did they shape your experience?
NSBE made my experience very special—that, for sure, shaped my USC experience. Everyone has a sense of warmth and care for each other. Seniors and graduate students were very supportive, very encouraging and very motivating. We even have NSBE “moms” and “dads”! The amount of support, honesty and encouragement is pretty unreal. My ballroom dancing partner, who is also a computer science student, is also a really fun person—he encouraged us to approach dance as an opportunity to just have fun.
And everyone else, from roommates to friends, and other classmates that helped me throughout classes. I think it’s all about being able to find people who really care about you and support you throughout the college process. I think that network extends beyond graduation: at whatever institution I’ve worked at, I’ve always met a USC person and will probably continue to do so. That has also made my experience really unique and special.
Based on what you know now, what is your best piece of advice for other students?
Listen to yourself. Check in with yourself. Ask yourself: does the work I’m doing still align with what I want to do? I feel like sometimes, you can get so caught up in school work that it can be really easy to lose that sense of curiosity and interest. Also being patient and realistic with yourself in terms of your limits. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professors are people too.
What’s an area where you feel like you’ve really grown between your first semester of college and today? What have you learned along the way?
I think regardless of what happens in 5 or 10 years, my experience at USC taught me to keep exploring. When I started at USC, I knew I enjoyed problem solving, but I didn’t know what that role would look like in the tech industry. Now, I’m excited to embark on the next stage of my journey as a program manager at Microsoft after graduation.
A big lesson I learned in second semester of freshman year was to understand my limits. I had a really intense course-load and was active in clubs and I should have scaled back. I’m really happy that after that semester, I focused on having a balanced course-load and trying to figure out what activities to prioritize.
What motivated you to persist throughout college?
The problem-solving thrill of computer science – when you find the solution to a problem, it’s amazing. Also, dancing – one of the coolest things about ballroom dancing is that it’s really about being present in the moment. It’s so much fun and a great way to meet amazing people you might not meet otherwise—you just have to say yes to the opportunities that come your way!