When 40,000 people are tied together by their scholarship and ambition on a single college campus, it’s not long before USC students realized they’re part of something bigger. It’s a natural part of everyone’s matriculation on campus — when admitted, students are assured that they’ll soon join the ranks of illustrious alumni like George Lucas and Neil Armstrong. Soon, they’re told, they’ll be part of the Trojan Family.
But for senior and mechanical engineering major Drew Halderman, the Trojan Family is a little more literal. Halderman is the 19th person in his family to attend USC, and his presence on campus follows a rich family history intertwined with that of the University.
Albert Bannister, Halderman’s great-great-great grandfather, taught commercial and economic science at USC from 1892 to 1905. The first member of his family to attend the University, Halderman’s great-great grandmother Florence Bannister-Halderman graduated in the late 1890s. The 18 others in his family, spanning six generations, who have ties to USC’s campus include his great grandmother, great-great uncle, grandfather, great uncle, father and cousins.
Growing up among Trojans, Halderman’s early childhood is chock-full of fond memories of USC. At the mere age of 7, Halderman attended his first USC football game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl in 2004. With two long touchdown runs from Reggie Bush, USC punched its ticket to the Orange Bowl — and fans went wild.
“It was the coolest thing to me to see how excited everybody got watching that game, and all the fans were screaming and yelling,” Halderman said. “When I was 7 it just blew my mind.”
Halderman spent much of his childhood and adolescence at USC football games. He remembers the rush of the USC-Stanford game that he attended as a high school senior. Students and guests rushed the field after the game — and the energy was contagious.
“I was like — this is where I want to be,” Halderman said. “I love this school.”
So when it came time for Halderman to attend college, USC felt like the natural choice. A teenager on the brink of adulthood, Halderman knew that USC could bridge his past and his future.
“When the whole application rolled around, it was almost like I didn’t think of USC as a college or university,” Halderman said. “It was just a place that I went all the time every single year.”
On campus, Halderman tries to experience USC as much as possible. Halderman joined Trojan Knights his freshman year and Phi Delta Theta his sophomore year. He also spent two years participating in Undergraduate Student Government as a delegate.
But even when he steps off campus, the Trojan spirit is still waiting for Halderman at home. Whenever he sees his grandfather, the conversation always seems to come back to USC football.
“Whenever I go to his house, the first thing that comes up for the first hour I talk to him is football,” Halderman said. “‘How’s the team this year? How’s Sam Darnold? How’s this and that?’ Every single time without fail. Every single time.”
Yet, despite the omnipresence of USC in Halderman’s life, Halderman has more than just Trojan blood. Halderman’s mother attended Stanford, which yields a friendly college rivalry.
“My mom has been gloating the past couple years about how we’ve been getting beat by their team,” Halderman said. “I’ll get a call after a football game — like a ‘ha ha, in your face’ kind of thing.”
Regardless, Halderman still feels deeply tethered to the Trojan identity, and he harbors a profound appreciation for his role in a much larger legacy. For him, the term “Trojan Family” takes a complex form.
“At first, coming in, it was kind of a feeling of building onto the Trojan family and Trojan tradition I already had, but I figured out it was almost like finding a new home,” Halderman said. “It was almost like creating my own new family.”