Her Business is Music

USC Marshall and Thornton student wins a Fulbright Scholarship to study music in India

April 12, 2018

Given her family’s influence, it was especially apt that USC Marshall student Geetha Somayajula,’18, learned she had been named a Fulbright Scholar while at home with her family over spring break, running errands with her mother.

“We jumped around in the grocery store and made a scene and shed some tears,” Somayajula, who is also a Thornton school of Music student, said. “But definitely the best way to get the news was to be with my mom, who initially inspired me to pursue music.”

After all, it was her mother’s love of classical Carnatic South Indian music and the piano and voice lessons she provided throughout her childhood that prompted her to undertake the unusual double major.

Somayajula, who was awarded a research grant in music, will spend nine months in South India, starting in August, studying traditional Indian music at a local conservatory while also volunteering and teaching choir at a nearby elementary school, as well as at a school for blind and deaf children.

“I want to learn more about traditional music and how I can bring multiculturalism to choral settings in the United States,” she said. “That is something I want to integrate, as well as my business career, into my future,” she said. 

The Best of Both Worlds

The opportunity to pursue both a music and business education is what drew her to USC, where she will graduate in May with a B.A. in choral music from the Thornton School of Music and a B.S. in business administration from Marshall.

She admits that some people think she’s crazy for wanting to have two careers, but business, like music, was “always in the cards for her.”

Her father encouraged her to cultivate both the creative and analytical parts of herself, because, as she recalls, he told her: “You never know when you will be able to combine both those things.”

Throughout high school, in addition to her studies and musical pursuits, she set up her own piano studio and taught music lessons, as well as launched a nonprofit to raise funds to bring music to homeless communities in Portland. Somayajula said those entrepreneurial experiences sparked her interest in unifying music performance and business. 

Her goal these days? Merge her two passions.

After her Fulbright, Somayajula will return to Los Angeles where she has accepted a full-time offer in management consulting at PwC. (She interned at the Big Four’s San Jose location last summer.) She hasn’t ruled out an MBA and, perhaps, returning to USC for her advanced degree one day.

“Ultimately, I want to end up in music.  I would love to be a CEO of a performing arts institution or a symphony orchestra like the LA Phil—and I think that having those business skills, more than anything, will set me apart,” she said.