Salutatorian Liam Tsao continues branching out of his comfort zone to take on new challenges

Photo of Liam Tsao
2023 Salutatorian, Liam Tsao, 21 poses for a picture in front of Doheny Memorial Library, May 3, 2023. (Photo/Gus Ruelas)

The USC Dornsife senior hopes to use his social policy experience in legislative work or community organizing before going to law school.

As much as he has loved his time at USC, Liam Tsao admits that it wasn’t always his dream school. Coming from Madison, Wis., Tsao said applying to a school in California was not the norm; USC wasn’t even on his radar. But at the urging of a neighbor — a Trojan alum — Tsao decided to apply.

Four years after leaving his family, friends and everything he had known behind, Tsao is graduating with a degree from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and as a salutatorian for the Class of 2023.

“It’s all still sinking in,” Tsao said. “I decided to leave home for the first time and give this a go, and I’m just so glad I did.”

USC salutatorian: Taking the risk and diving in

Tsao said that if he was going to pack up and go to school nearly 2,000 miles away, he was going to study everything that interested him and take full advantage of what the university has to offer. As a history and social sciences major with an emphasis in economics and a minor in marine biology, Tsao said that the interdisciplinary education at USC was the strongest selling point. “One thing that I really valued about my USC experience is that I’ve gotten to take classes all over the place,” Tsao said. “USC makes it really easy for that to happen.”

Read more about Liam’s story