University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Nick Powers-Maher

Steps to a New Beat

By L. Alexis Young

Nick Powers-MaherPhoto by Nathan CarterNick Powers-Maher

Playing clarinet in his high school marching band was fun, but for Nick Powers-Maher marching onto the football field for the first time with the USC Trojan Marching Band was overwhelming.

“In high school people didn’t really care about the band. The band was better than the football team, but people still didn’t care,” said Powers-Maher, a senior majoring in East Asian languages and cultures. “And now people are like, ‘You’re in the band? I see you all over the place.’ I think that has been one of the most surprising things for me.”

Powers-Maher said marching with the band for the last time was equally overwhelming and emotional because he and his band mates are like a family. They celebrate holidays together, eat together after football games and take road trips. Devoting four years to the band was a big time commitment, but found time to get involved with unexpected things.

“When I was a freshman I was watching my orientation adviser thinking I could never do this job. It doesn’t look appealing to me because you have to be fun, popular, attractive and outgoing, and I’m not really any of those things,” explained Powers-Maher, who was nominated by his band section leader to be an orientation adviser. “I definitely changed a lot in the one year I became an orientation adviser. I grew up a lot and became more sure of myself.”

With his newfound confidence, Powers-Maher joined the Break on 2, a Latin fusion dance group for USC students. While in high school, the aspiring dancer watched the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” and decided to take jazz, contemporary and ballet classes. “I still can’t do any of what I see on that show. I haven’t been super serious about it because of other time commitments, but it has been a good break from my other stuff.” His dance moves were good enough for the Trojan Marching Band, for which he choreographed routines.

“Nick is a great guy and made a wonderful contribution by writing and teaching our dance routines last year,” said Arthur Bartner, director of the band.

When the Chapel Hill, North Carolina native isn’t busy studying, dancing or blogging for his social media internship at a non-profit agency, he enjoys traveling. He studied abroad in Japan for a semester, and has travelled to Amsterdam, Paris, England and Spain with his family.

Recently, Powers-Maher has taken an interest in the history of food, and aspires to write about food cultures for magazines. For now, he experiments with baking desserts and then blogging about his creations.