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For the Next Generation

Annual luncheon celebrates College scholarship donors and recipients

For the Next Generation

On April 20, USC College Dean Joseph Aoun hosted the annual Scholarship Recognition and Academic Energy Award Luncheon at Town and Gown, honoring College students who, through talent and hard work, earned scholarships to support their education. This unique event also brought together scholarship donors and the College students they sponsor.

USC Trustee Alan Casden delivered the keynote address, in which he told of his own days as a scholarship student at USC, and praised the scholars and donors present at the event.

Casden said, “Students, congratulations. What a terrific opportunity you have received through this scholarship program. I trust it has allowed you to pursue activities that you would not have otherwise been able to do, and that you have explored new intellectual realms or expanded your worldview.”

“Friends and fellow donors,” he continued, “I would like to thank you for taking your responsibility to our Trojan Family so seriously.There is an old Chinese saying that each generation builds a road for the next. You truly have.”

Said USC College Dean Joseph Aoun, ”Thanks to the opportunities a USC College education affords, our scholarship donors have achieved immense success and have given back so that others may achieve. Now it’s up to our scholars to do the same. When these two groups, who are so vital to the College, come together, lifelong bonds have been formed.”

Donors and scholars shared their stories over lunch. For Robert Berkes (B.A., political science, ’73) contributing to the Ross and Marjorie Berkes Travel Award meant continuing a family tradition. “I did it in honor of my parents,” he said. “My dad was a professor here at the School of International Relations, and he was very big in promoting overseas programs. This was an opportunity to provide funding for students to travel and participate in overseas programs that otherwise they might not be able to do. This is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Berkes scholars participated in the School of International Relations’ five-week summer program in Geneva. Student travelers took a course at the Graduate Institute of International Studies and interned with a variety of U.N. associations and nongovernmental organizations. The experience had a profound impact on scholarship recipients.

“It really gave me the chance to go outside the classroom and apply what I've learned,” said Kristy Hawley, a senior majoring in international relations and communication. “I got to see how the policies we learn are actually implemented in the real world.”

The summer program was an epiphany for USC 2006 valedictorian Kavitha Sivaraman, who complemented her biology major with minors in international relations and bioethics: “I didn't have a chance to go abroad before this scholarship. It’s definitely changed the direction I want to take my life.”

Sivaraman explained, “I saw how a medical degree could be put to use working internationally something that had never really occurred to me before as a career option. There are large-scale issues I want to try to help solve someday... all thanks to the Berkes scholarship and the Geneva program.”

Other philanthropists gave in support of Trojan artists. Beau Boudreaux (B.A., creative writing, ’94), an award-winning poet, established the Beau J. Boudreaux Poetry Award to give creative writing graduates a chance to continue developing their craft. He said, “I want students to have the opportunity when they graduate not to have to get a job necessarily, but rather to focus on their work.”

Boudreaux award winner Todd Wiseman appreciated the freedom and, even more, the vote of support. “It's given me a boost of confidence,” he said. “That was the most important thing, the feeling that I'm doing something right.”

Archana Agarwal, a doctoral student in political science who earned the Dean Joan M. Schaefer Graduate Research Award, gave this year’s graduate student address. She described her against-the-odds path from one of India’s poorest states and secondary education in New Delhi to seeking out new horizons at USC College.

Agarwal, an advocate for women’s human rights, hopes that her dissertation investigating ritualized forms of violence against women in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will one day be the impetus for policy changes in that area of the world.

Philosophy undergraduate Joshua Hornstein, recipient of the J. Wesley Robb Endowed Scholarship in Human Values, spoke to attendees about his establishment of a speaker series on ethics and medicine at USC. He plans to go to medical school, and believes that a first-rate philosophy education at the College is perfect preparation to be a truly caring physician.

Kim Freeman, director of community relations at the Southern California Gas Company and San Diego Gas & Electric, appeared on behalf of Sempra Energy, a sponsor of the event. Freeman recognized award winners from the 2006 Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work, whose original works of art and research also earned them Sempra’s Academic Energy Award.

For the full text of Alan Casden's speech, click here.