A photo of Jaren Lewison
Actor and alumnus Jaren Lewison will address his fellow USC Dornsife Trojans on USC’s Allyson Felix Field. (Photo: Irvin Rivera.)

Alumnus Jaren Lewison, star of ‘Never Have I Ever,’ to deliver 2024 USC Dornsife commencement address

Lewison, who portrayed Ben Gross in the popular Netflix series while studying psychology, will speak during the College’s graduation ceremonies — and receive the young alumni award — on May 10.
ByDarrin S. Joy

Jaren Lewison has been an actor much of his young life. Most recently, he garnered acclaim for his role as Ben Gross on the hit Netflix series Never Have I Ever, much of which he filmed while studying psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

On May 10, Lewison will take on a different role, this time as the commencement speaker for his alma mater’s graduation ceremonies on Allyson Felix Field May 10 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. He will also receive the young alumni award in recognition of his achievements as a USC Dornsife graduate.

Academic and acting achievement

When Lewison first stepped foot on USC’s University Park Campus as a freshman in the fall of 2019, few of his fellow students could have predicted what lay in store for him. He’d held roles in several television shows, including the children’s program Barney & Friends, as well as movies, but the previous summer had brought him what would become his breakout role.

Never Have I Ever debuted in April 2020 to both popular and critical acclaim, putting the spotlight on its bright young cast, including Lewison. The series would go on to film three more seasons.

Along the way, Lewison earned his psychology degree, with a minor in forensics and criminality, finishing in just three years, a remarkable achievement considering the demands of both his studies and filming.  And he graduated summa cum laude.

“Our students exemplify what it means to learn and do simultaneously. Jaren’s ability to apply his coursework to his professional career is a great example of this Dornsife trait,” said Emily Anderson, college dean of undergraduate education at USC Dornsife. “I commend him for his accomplishments, and I know our graduates will be inspired by what he has done.”

Lewison credits his teachers and those close to him with helping him find the right balance. “Support from my friends and my family sort of kept me afloat,” he said, “especially when I was kind of going crazy with so much to do.”

The Dallas native says his major lends to his process in portraying an actor, providing insight into how people behave with one another and the world. “I think that it just informs you on motivations and behavior,” he said. “You understand the world around you and how you interact in it and how others interact with it. And I think that as an actor, that’s really what you’re doing. You’re just understanding people and then it gets filmed.”

Lewison says, in fact, that his overall experience and the broad opportunities available at USC Dornsife helped him “be as well-rounded as possible,” something he values for himself and his career. “You collaborate with people, you understand different perspectives, and you do that to formulate a collaborative effort.”

More information about the USC Dornsife commencement ceremonies can be found at dornsife.usc.edu/commencement/.

Editor’s note (May 8): At the request of his management team, Jaren Lewison will speak at a future commencement ceremony.