Students and faculty gathered at the Davidson Conference Center Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the rededication of the center as the new home of the USC International Academy.
The USC International Academy prepares international high school students for college and international USC students applying for master’s programs. This program was launched in 2014, and this fall, approximately 700 students are enrolled across all three programs: English, undergraduate preparation and master’s preparation.
“We equip them fully for university life,” said Deborah Detzel, academic director of the Language Academy, in her speech at the event. “With courses like ‘Exploring Your Major’ and ‘University Communication and Culture,’ we prepare our students to enter degree programs ahead of the learning curve in an academic culture far different from their own.”
University President C. L. Max Nikias and Anthony Bailey, vice president of strategic and global initiatives also spoke at the event following a video that described the International Academy and depicted the firsthand experiences of students in the program.
“We celebrate a landmark moment in our University’s continued push to stand at the forefront as a global, American research university,” Nikias said. “We also acknowledge that we are building on an already very rich history. An international character that runs so deep that it defines our very DNA as a University.”
The Spirit of Troy also accompanied the event speakers, playing at the beginning and the end of the event.
After the speaking portion of the program concluded, students and faculty in the International Academy were invited into the Davidson Center for appetizers and tours of the new classrooms.
This newly renovated space, which was used for large conferences prior to the rededication, now features 28 classrooms, advising spaces and offices.
Xi Cheng, an electrical engineering student, is looking forward to starting her master’s degree this spring through classes offered at the International Academy.
“I want to continue studying this major,” Cheng said. “[The International Academy] will allow me more opportunities in the future.”
Bailey believes that by replicating an American study environment, students like Cheng will be successful.
“The USC International Academy is designed to help students to really be successful in a U.S.-style classroom and to be acclimated to university life in the U.S.,” Bailey said. “Students who want to get their English up are getting test preparation and attending admissions consulting for admissions — so we help them with how to navigate the U.S. admissions process to gain admission into U.S. universities.”
While those enrolled in the English, test preparation and admission classes constitute a large majority of the student body, the biggest program is the Pre-Master’s Program.
“The whole idea behind the Pre-Master’s program is that there are a lot of really well academically qualified students who had really good grades in national universities, but don’t have the English level yet to get into a USC program,” Bailey said. “So what we will do is for the master’s programs that are participating at USC, academy students will apply to that program and they will gain conditional admission in that program [predicated] on the student taking a semester or two in the academy.”
USC is unique among private universities for spearheading this program, which aims to acclimate students to the typical classroom and culture found at the respective institution while at the same time adding to the mélange of current international and national students.
“This is the first time that a top research university has created a program of such singular depth and scope,” Nikias said.