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Thinking Outward

Inspired by their daughter, Trojan parents support community service-learning efforts.

Thinking Outward

Piper Stremmel knows what originally attracted her to community service at USC. As a freshman, she participated in the Joint Educational Project (JEP), the College’s service-learning program, to bolster her grades.

“It sounds bad,” she said, “but I initially became interested because classes offered extra credit to volunteer for JEP.”

But in her assignment with JEP, Piper discovered the inherent rewards of volunteering. Her sophomore year, the art history major found herself missing the fellowship of working with her peers for a good cause — and the satisfaction of helping others.

“I felt like there was something missing in my life,” said Piper, who begins her senior year this fall. “I was existing only for myself, and that’s never a really good feeling.”

A friend suggested Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE), a mentorship program of USC’s Women’s Student Assembly. Undergraduate women are matched with girls at the local John Adams Middle School and Los Angeles Academy. For Piper, the fit was perfect, and she’s met weekly with her WYSE mentees for the past two school years.

“I love WYSE. It’s become the most positive experience I’ve had outside the classroom since I’ve been in college.”

The influence of JEP and WYSE made an impression on her parents, as well.

“It’s so easy for students to lose themselves when they go away to school. Piper’s volunteer work at USC has reinforced her values and given her a real sense of fulfillment,” said Peter Stremmel, her father.

Peter and his wife, Turkey, own an art gallery in Reno, Nev. Both were so pleased with their daughter’s campus experience and their association with the university that they decided to become donors. But they also wanted to ensure that their contribution would make a difference.

The answer came from Piper’s passion for helping others. The Stremmels gave to JEP and WYSE — benefiting both the university and its neighbors.

“USC is part of the fabric of that neighborhood,” Peter said. “These organizations do important work by bringing the community and the university closer together.”

And Piper is excited that her parents have contributed to a cause close to her heart.

“I’m happy working with my mentees, but I also wish I’d done more than a semester with JEP,” she said. “It’s so amazing what the program can do with a little more money, the number of places that it can go.”