Samantha Chacko

Major: Vocal Arts; Philosophy, Politics and Law

Graduation year: 2024

Hometown: Dallas, TX

USC Organizations: Thornton Chamber Opera, Choir, Moot Court, Phi Alpha Delta: Pre-Law Fraternity, and the Society of Women in Law

Hashtag to describe yourself: #yesyourhonoriwillbesingingmyopeningstatement

Favorite place on campus: Hoose Library

Describe your favorite USC Thornton experience so far.

Coming from a public school to a highly ranked music program with no prior experience in music theory, I was convinced I would fall behind. I could not have been more wrong. While I struggled with the new content at first, my professor and peers were always there to help. I finished Theory I with an A.

My music theory class is probably the best “classroom” experience I’ve ever had. It’s weird, I know, but the environment our class created transcended our virtual setting. We created a community that stretched across the globe from our little Zoom boxes. Not only did we help each other, but we were also all bound by a mutual understanding that we’re all going through this together. It united us further. I never thought I would utter this following phrase in my life: I actually looked forward to and enjoyed my 8 A.M. music theory class!

What was your favorite USC GE class?

PHIL 166 – Current Moral & Social Issues; At the beginning of Theory I, we read a lot about musicology and theory through scholarly articles and wrote a short reflection paper. Despite the seemingly unrelated topics, I was actually able to draw some interesting parallels between the content of the two classes.

What is your favorite thing about being in Los Angeles?

LA has a reputation (particularly for out-of-state applicants) for being this magical place where you are surrounded by beauty and opportunity. While that is true, I don’t think it fully captures why LA is so great for music students. It’s because there is inspiration everywhere you look. Everyone’s pushing boundaries and making something new. You’re constantly surrounded by creativity and new opportunities. It’s not just about who’s making it or how; it’s about the things people are doing with their craft. Take the Young Artist Project, for example. Before you are even invited to audition at USC, you can see a common theme of open-mindedness and innovation that really defines the school and the city. Besides that, definitely the food.

What is something you wish you knew when you were applying to college?

You are enough. Take it from someone who applied to 13 schools and spent months auditioning over and over again. You’re competing against hundreds of students to get into programs that may only accept about a handful of people. It’s easy to get lost in all the things you may think you lack compared to other applicants, but you have unique qualities and experiences that make you stand out despite what you may think. Have faith in yourself and all the hard work you’ve put in over the past few years. You deserve this opportunity as much as everyone else, so take the time to assess your strengths and prove it to the admissions team. Show them who you are and all the things you have to offer. Take your time, put in the effort. That’s how you’ll succeed.

What is your favorite thing about being a student at the Thornton School?

The encouragement of individuality. From voice teachers to theory professors, everyone encourages us to use what they teach us for our own purposes. We are taught the traditional rules and fundamentals but are encouraged to use them in new ways. It’s a collaborative environment rather than a typical classroom setting. And, because everyone has different musical backgrounds, you can see how other people apply the same concepts in different contexts. It’s something incredibly unique to find a place that encourages diversity and individuality in such different ways.

Why did you choose the Thornton School? 

In addition to the fantastic faculty and facilities, Thornton’s academic flexibility was my deciding factor. Thornton was by far the most accommodating college on my list. Degree plans and advisors are flexible and very helpful. Even the faculty encourage innovation and go out of their way to help you in any way they can. USC Thornton sees value in well-rounded students.