University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Future Trojan Max Novak Brings Eclectic Talents to USC

By Diane Ver Steeg Anderson

Max NovakPhoto by Lillian InsalataMax Novak

With interests ranging from designing street wear to playing the saxophone to riding BMX bicycles, incoming freshman Max Novak is excited about the opportunities that USC and Los Angeles have to offer.

“USC is just a great school,” said the Oakland, Calif. native. “You can just tell that kids here are not numbers the way that they are in a much larger state university. And it has all these great qualifications — great weather, a chance to be in a great city. I am a big fan of Los Angeles so it will be nice to explore while I am here.”

As active as he is, it is hard to imagine that Novak started out life with serious health issues. Born with TEF (tracheoesophageal fistula), a condition in which the esophagus is not properly connected to the trachea, Novak underwent 15 surgeries in his infancy. He also was diagnosed with a minor degree of cerebral palsy in his legs as a young boy, which also led to a surgery.

But Novak doesn’t dwell on the physical challenges he has faced, and he doesn’t let them deter him from his goals.

“I have turned out really well I think. But there were definitely some rough times for me and my folks. It has gotten better. The doctors have done a fabulous job so I am really indebted to them.”

Novak, who plans to major in Classics, describes himself as a creative person interested in music and the visual arts. An accomplished saxophone player, he and a friend who make up the band Cyprus Fountains are set to release an album of “alternative, low-fi rock music” called “Macrocosm & Microcosm.”

“I play saxophone on some of the songs, and I did some music editing and lyric writing,” said Novak, who performed in his middle and high school jazz bands. “I definitely want to do music at USC, so if there are other students who do music similar to the styles I like then maybe I can join up with them.”

Also a skateboarder, Novak would like to work with students who share his interest in street-wear design.  “There is a bit of a distinctive style of clothing that goes with skateboarding,” said Novak who creates “graphics-driven” designs for T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts for his clothing line called “Worse.”

He also works with the manufacturers to produce the clothing, which he sells through stores in Berkeley as well as to family and friends.

When he is not pursuing his artistic passions or studying, Novak can be found riding his BMX bicycle around town.

“I love just cruising around with friends and finding stuff to ride, practicing tricks,” said Novak, who plans to bring his BMX bike with him when he comes to USC. “It will be fun to explore new areas in L.A.”