When she isn’t busy studying engineering at USC Viterbi, you might find Alexandra Rennie cheering on her fellow Trojans from the sidelines at USC football games, water polo matches, track meets, rallies and more.
Rennie isn’t just a diehard fan of Trojan athletics: She’s the captain of the USC Spirit Leaders, a co-ed squad that performs cheers, choreography, stunts, and tumbling at athletic and other events year-round.
“USC has such a strong tradition of school spirit and to get to be a captain of a group that contributes to that tradition is a huge honor,” said Rennie, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering.
Rennie, who first joined the squad for their 2019 season during her freshman year, was appointed captain for the 2020 season by Spirit Coach Audrea Harris. Backed by her teammates, Rennie was reappointed captain for the 2021 season.
“Alex is an amazing leader- she’s kind, patient, helpful, empathetic, and a great listener,” said Harris, a USC alumnus and a former USC Song Girl.
Rennie joined Spirit because she missed the camaraderie that comes with being part of a team after serving as captain of the varsity dance team at her high school. She loves being able to engage with the crowd and bring enthusiasm and energy to events.
As captain, Rennie runs practices, creates and teaches choreography, organizes fundraising events for the team, and helps with the scheduling. In her role, she’s implemented improvements to the program, like recording herself performing the squad’s dances and uploading the videos to Google Drive to allow her teammates to study routines.
“Spirit has to know around 30 different dances at any given time, which is a lot for one person to remember,” Rennie said. “I think that my teammates have found it really helpful to be able to review any of the dances whenever they need to.”
The Spirit Leaders practice twice weekly and attend between two and four athletic events each week throughout the year. Each fall, around 40 to 60 students try out for the squad, and between 12 and 17 are chosen as Spirit Leaders. The current team consists of 13 members.
Born and raised in Palos Verdes, California, Rennie grew up in a family with ample Trojan pride. But even though her father, her grandfather, and her great-grandfather all attended USC, Rennie wasn’t always sure she wanted to follow in their footsteps.
“For most of high school, I wanted to go to school somewhere farther away, but it was the culture at USC Viterbi that ultimately changed my mind,” Rennie said. “I spoke to a Viterbi student who was a computer science major with a dance minor, and she loved her experience. I felt like at Viterbi, I could pursue everything I was passionate about, which has proven true and is something I really love about the school.”
“I felt like at Viterbi, I could pursue everything I was passionate about, which has proven true and is something I really love about the school.”
In addition to the Spirit Leaders, Rennie is involved in various other groups on campus. She serves on the executive board of the Wrigley Ambassadors, a group she helped found during her freshman year. The organization works with the Wrigley Institute of Sustainability on Catalina Island to champion and highlight sustainable initiatives on campus.
Rennie is also an ambassador for the Viterbi Student Ambassadors (VSA), where she serves as a resource for prospective USC Viterbi students. She’s also a member of USC sorority Alpha Delta Pi and a part of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE).
Rennie entered USC as a chemical engineering major, but after a summer internship working as a project manager for Roots Fundraising, Inc., a startup working in mobile app development, she ended up switching to industrial systems engineering her sophomore year. She spent the summer working as a supply chain operations intern at Flexport, a company that moves freight globally by air, ocean, and rail using modern software.
Rennie is also pursuing a master’s in engineering management from USC Viterbi through the MSEMT program. In the future, she wants to work in program management for a company that’s environmentally conscious and where she can have an impact on others.
Said Rennie: “USC is a place where the school spirit is so strong, where so many people are united by a love for this university. The Spirit Leaders represent the pride, excellence, and determination of the Trojan Family, and it is such an honor to get to be a part of that.”
The Spirit Leader program was established in 2006, a derivation from the historic USC Yell Leaders, an all-male group founded in 1919 that performed cheers, chants, and acrobatic stunts at USC football games. Notable Spirit alum include Anissa Claiborne, a Weather Anchor for Storm Team 10 in Indiana, Kendall Toole, one of Peloton’s most popular cycling instructors, and Kristian Emel, the founder of athletic apparel company “It’s Game Day.”