“The world that you will enter as a professional is a whole lot different than the world I entered years ago,” exclaimed Dr. Ernest Wilson, founder of the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, to a virtual room of more than 50 high school students.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the learning of just about every high school student. Students have endured grueling months of online learning, Zoom calls, and independent work. This year, the Third Space Youth Institute also had to adapt to distant learning, but our students still showed up on Zoom every day eager to learn about how to leverage their soft skills for college and career success.

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Blog Posts

Not every high school student knows exactly what they want to be when they are older, but Kymberly Rivera is already taking the steps to become a lawyer, with her mind set on criminal justice or on working with juveniles. She was drawn to the Third Space Thinking program because she wanted to gain the leadership skills to prepare herself for her future career. As a junior at the USC Hybrid High College Prep Academy, Kymberly is highly involved as a leader.  She is the captain of her soccer team, a leader in her coding and robotics club, as well as a former participant in the mock trial team. Through weekly modules, self-reflection activities on Padlet, online group activities with her 19 classmates, and a final project using the ACE-IT model to tackle a cause the students care about, Kymberly and her classmates strengthened their soft skills during the 10-week online program. The Third Space course, Developing Academic and Career Success Through Third Space Thinking, is designed to provide students with the core attributes that are needed, yet underrepresented in the job market: adaptability, cultural competency, empathy, intellectual curiosity, and 360-degree thinking.  While Kymberly has been exposed to soft skills […]

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In the final session of Developing Academic and Career Success Through Third Space Thinking, twenty students at USC Hybrid High College Prep used the Center’s ACE-IT model to find new and innovative solutions to some of society’s most difficult problems. After learning the importance of Third Space attributes during a 10-week online course, students applied the essential soft skills — Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity and 360-Degree Thinking —  in their final presentations on May 7, 2021. Groups presented their final projects to a handful of Third Space educators including Third Space Founder, Dr. Ernest Wilson, Third Space Executive Director Shellee Smith, Third Space Fellow Jaime, and their teacher Sarah Batizy. Before the five teams shared their findings, Dr. Wilson made an opening remark to reinforce the critical use of the soft skills students learned in this program in regards to job opportunities.  “As someone who hires students when they finish high school,” Dr. Wilson said. “When they have these skills, these are exactly the kind of skills that employers are also looking for.”  Next, Third Space Fellow Jaime Carias applauded the students on their exceptional efforts in the program and encouraged them to reflect on their personal legacy.  […]

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To address the rising cases of violence against Asian Americans since the onset of the pandemic, the USC Annenberg Cross-Cultural Student Association partnered with the Annenberg chapter of the Asian-American Journalists Association to host “Pandemic Panic: The surging violence against Asian Americans” on March 18. The virtual event came the day after the racially motivated shooting of eight people — six of whom identified as women of Asian descent — in Atlanta, Georgia on March 17. Panelists Anh Do, Joyce Jang, Jon Funabiki, Dr. Sherry Wang and Christina Yang discussed the importance of addressing anti-Asian hate crimes and highlighted the racism exhibited toward Asians and Pacific Islanders to an audience of over 150 people. Specifically, the event addressed the need for cultural competency and empathy when conversing about racial hate and struggles. Co-moderated by Nathan Hyun, a junior majoring in journalism, and Connie Deng, a sophomore majoring in public relations, the event kicked off with a video montage displaying anti-Asian hate crimes shown in the media and its significance during the pandemic. After the introduction, the panelists were asked questions regarding Asian American identity, the media portrayal of anti-Asian hate crimes, and how others can help support the community. An […]

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Students in the United States and across the globe have faced a multitude of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic as they learned to adapt to online learning. Nonetheless, the students at USC Hybrid High College Prep were exceptionally enthusiastic to join Third Space Founder, Dr. Ernest Wilson and Third Space Fellow Jaime Carias virtually for the first session of our program, Developing Academic and Career Success Through Third Space Thinking on Friday, February 26. Twenty students from Hybrid High’s history class were introduced to the ACE-IT model, which is comprised of five research-based attributes: Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity and 360-Degree Thinking. These are the soft skills that will be measured and strengthened throughout the course of the program to prepare students for college and their career.

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February was Black History Month, but learning about Black history is a continually evolving exercise. Over the years since it was launched in 1970, it’s always been about remembrance and representation, then integration and justice. More recently, the terms diversity and inclusion have come to the fore.  Then with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the term ‘structural racism’ entered prominently into the public conversation, and now with a new presidential administration in power, brought largely by the mobilization of African American voters, the question of ‘remedies’ is now critically before the nation. The Center for Third Space Thinking at the University of Southern California Annenberg School is devoted to enhancing diversity and inclusion across the board by helping individuals acquire the critical skills they need to be successful in our post-industrial, digital economy. Our teaching and community service provide learners the ‘soft skills’ that complement the STEM hard skills. Indeed, our students in high school and in college have come to call them ‘survival skills’.  They recognize these are ways they can gain power. This year, Black History Month is being held against the back drop of two things that BLM has drawn us to.  First, achieving […]

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Many people forget that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s work in the Civil Rights Movement was only about 50 or 60 years ago. King was assassinated in 1968 after working to gather the Black community, people of color and other allies to heal the nation’s traumas of 400 years of slavery. King fought against segregation and his influence helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed unjust voting practices. But many people forget that King’s work still continues today with those fighting for the dream he spoke of in his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech. In that speech, King said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” While King’s mounting work made a stride towards a just society, the fact is that systemic racism still persists today, and rather than viewing the Civil Rights Movement and his work as a panacea moment in history, we can honor his legacy by listening to the voices of the Black community and the current Black Lives Matter Movement to continue to build the […]

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In a post pandemic world, leadership and what it entails are ever changing. Curiosity must be used to combat change in the workplace as evidence suggests that cultivating curiosity helps leaders adapt to such different challenges. This relationship is greatly emphasized in the interview by Jeannette Lang, General Manager for HR Partners, with our very own research fellow, Dr. Alison Horstmeyer.

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The USC Annenberg School has organized and launched several meaningful high school programs meant to introduce lower-income and disadvantaged students within the greater Los Angeles area to the broad media landscape, an in-depth college experience, and professionals from diverse industries and backgrounds who communicate and convey their expertise and experiences. Earlier this year, 12 students and two teachers from the Merced Union High School District immersed themselves in a customized program of digital storytelling, video production and soft skills development.  I had the wonderful opportunity to connect with and interview Oscar Perez, a recent Merced Union High graduate and former participant in a USC Annenberg high school program.

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More than 1,000 women leaders tuned in Nov. 5-6 for workshops focused on this year’s theme, “Leadership for a Lifetime”. The event provided networking opportunities, panel discussions, and workshops for current military leaders and veterans from around the world. The speakers ranged from leaders in the military to leaders in the public and private sectors who offered their support and advice for advancing their careers. Shellee Smith, executive director of the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking and Executive Education led a presentation titled, “Third Space Thinking: Building Soft Skills Critical for Leading in Today’s World”. Smith covered the center’s five core attributes of Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity and 360-Degree Thinking and how women can utilize these soft skills to become better leaders and colleagues.

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