Photo of the Skok Family

Supporting Students

When Jen Skok visited USC with her oldest son, Ryan, on his tour of colleges, something clicked.

“The minute we stepped foot on campus, it just felt right. It was a beautiful day, the tour guide was amazing, and everyone was smiling,” she said. Though Ryan, then a high school junior, had long wanted to attend college in Southern California, the campus visit cemented his preference for USC.

Now that he’s a junior at USC, Ryan has “achieved his dreams beyond what he thought he could do,” his mom said. His grades have earned him a place on the dean’s list every semester, he has served as a teaching assistant at USC Marshall, and he has worked at USC Dornsife’s Language Center.

Watching as Ryan thrived at USC, Jen was both amazed and grateful for the opportunities the school provided him. “He’s taken every opportunity that’s been given to him, and we’ve seen the positive attributes that have grown as a result,” she said. “We wanted to give this same opportunity to someone else.”

Unlocking Potential 

Inspired, Jen and her husband Steve have funded scholarships for both USC Dornsife and USC Marshall, with preference given to students coming from the Skok’s hometown of Chicago. By funding scholarships to support individual students, the Skoks are making a more targeted approach to their giving.

“We wanted to give to students who wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend USC otherwise — we wanted to help change individuals’ lives,” Jen said.

Supporting students specifically from Chicago was important to the Skoks because they are more familiar with the neighborhoods and circumstances from which scholarship recipients come.

“There are so many people to help in Chicago,” Jen said. “Since we’re from there, providing that support made it more impactful for us.”

USC Dornsife students from Chicago who have received the Skok Family Scholarship readily acknowledge the difference it has made in their education. Calling the gift “inspiring,” senior Kiarra Akiyoshi, a cognitive science and Spanish double major, said that the gift played an “integral role in helping me fulfill my dreams of graduating from USC.”

Student Success

Sophomore creative writing major Elizabeth Mensah said that without the Skok Family Scholarship, “I wouldn’t be able to follow my dream of becoming a writer/director …. The generosity of a stranger can change the entire course of a life.”

In addition to her philanthropic contributions to the university, Jen Skok serves on the Executive Committee of USC’s Parent Leadership Circle as an ambassador for USC in the Chicago region, serving as advocate and guide, including for local parents reaching out for advice after their children have been admitted. This role is especially important as USC continues to raise its national profile.

“There are lots more kids in Chicago applying to USC,” Jen said. “Beautiful weather, beautiful campus, a top-notch reputation. You’re looking at a school that has everything.”

The family’s experiences with USC have made the Skoks proud to be members of the Trojan Family.

“We’re happy to be part of a close-knit community,” Jen said. “Everyone we have met has been so engaging and welcoming. It’s a very diverse mix of people, and everyone is so happy and proud that they went there, and that their children go there.”

The Skok family recently found out that their own connection to the Trojan Family would deepen: In April, they were overjoyed to learn that their second son Nick had been admitted to USC, keeping the Skok’s Trojan tradition alive.



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USC Dornsife Office of Advancement

1150 South Olive Street, Suite 2400
Los Angeles, CA 90015

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USC Advancement Gift Services
1150 South Olive Street, Suite 2500
Los Angeles, California 90015

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