Jeri Schuessler-Loynachan became the first Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program student to receive The Mary Roney Memorial Scholarship during the program’s annual colloquium.
The family of Mary Roney, who earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree from USC Dornsife in 1986, established the award to provide support to students who have excelled in the MLS program. The Master of Liberal Arts degree was the predecessor to the MLS degree, which offers graduate multidisciplinary work to those returning to higher education.
“My mother loved her experience at USC in graduate liberal studies,” said Lorna Joachim, Mary Roney’s daughter, who presented the award during the May 10 colloquium. “Her love of learning, and especially her love of literature and history, infused our family life.”
Joachim presented Schuessler-Loynachan with a bound copy of her mother’s thesis, written about the life of Mary James, the mother of 19th-century writer Henry James.
Schuessler-Loynachan said she was honored.
“Like your mother, I, too, have been blessed with a challenging, invigorating and rewarding graduate experience here at USC,” she told Joachim. “Returning to the academic world after an extended hiatus of raising a family, I have found amazing opportunities within a diverse student community where I could expand my intellectual horizons.”
Schuessler-Loynachan earned her bachelor’s degree from USC Dornsife in anthropology, with an emphasis on photography. She also earned a paralegal certificate from USC before going on to teach fine arts and manage art galleries. She began the MLS program in 2009 and continues as a part-time student. She was selected to present her research on Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic techniques at the 2010 Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium and served as an inaugural co-vice president of the MLS Student Association from 2011 to 2012.
“The MLS program is grateful for the example which Mary Roney has set for our students,” said Susan Kamei, associate dean for USC Dornsife’s Office of Advanced and Professional Programs and director of the MLS program. “And we are grateful to the Roney family for their support of our students in Mary’s memory.”
Schuessler-Loynachan said the MLS curriculum has broadened her perspectives.
“And the compassionate faculty and staff create an environment in which students learn from one another’s diverse backgrounds, professions and global viewpoints,” she said. “The MLS program has provided me with an arena for passionate academic engagement and an outlet for personal expressive growth and dialogue.”
The Master of Liberal Studies program offers multidisciplinary graduate studies for professional development and personal enrichment. Weekly evening seminar-style classes are designed for the working professional. MLS students also receive individual mentoring from USC Dornsife faculty and enjoy camaraderie with diverse classmates.