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Community Service Awards celebrates service and scholarship

Pamela Johnsonby Pamela J. Johnson
Dean Steve A. Kay presents a Community Service Innovation Award to international relations senior Travis Glynn. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)
Dean Steve A. Kay presents a Community Service Innovation Award to international relations senior Travis Glynn. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

As a junior, Travis Glynn created the Explore program through the Joint Educational Project (JEP) at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. In the program, JEP volunteers challenge elementary students to look at Los Angeles through a global lens.

For instance, at Magnolia Avenue Elementary School, JEP volunteers talked to third-graders about immigration and its impact on the cultural diversity of LA. Volunteers discussed culture, tolerance and conflict management — subjects that students are usually not exposed to until middle or high school.

Founding this program was one reason that Glynn, now a senior majoring in international relations, won an Innovation Award during the 2013 USC Community Service Awards Dinner. The recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship was among the many undergraduates, graduate students and teaching assistants from throughout USC who were honored during the annual event held on April 16 at Town & Gown.

In that category, Ross Mead of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Ali Al-Sarraf of the USC Gould School of Law and students in the Interfaith Badge program also won awards. Short videos of honorees talking about their community work were shown.

“This award is representative of USC Dornsife’s continued investment in service learning,” said Glynn, who is minoring in cultural anthropology, policy and management and German. “While I’m responsible for the idea of the Explore program, I could not have implemented it without the support of JEP, the USC professors and Los Angeles schools who believed in the program.”

At the event, Elizabeth Garrett, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said the awards acknowledge students who have demonstrated extraordinary service to Los Angeles.

“USC and Los Angeles are inextricably tied, having grown up together — we have worked side by side in leveraging our resources, celebrating diversity and spurring innovation that shapes society,” Garrett said. “Both Los Angeles and USC rely on the efforts of those who see problems and take action to solve them, helping to sustain this symbiotic relationship.”

USC has long maintained service to its community as one of its core values, she said.

“This, indeed, is part of what it means to be a Trojan,” she said. “Our new ‘Strategic Vision: Matching Deeds to Ambitions’ sets priorities for our institution going forward, and it makes this commitment clear:

“Our goal is to have a direct impact on improving the quality of life for our neighbors,” Garrett said, reciting the strategic vision. “That impact will be felt through health care and patient care, including participation of our community in health-related research, community service programs, and many arts and cultural events.

“We must make it a priority to build institutional ties and collaborations across the city,” she added. “Just as we talk about USC’s impact on Los Angeles over the last 130 years, we aim to make the coming decades as transformative for the areas immediately surrounding our campuses.”

USC Dornsife Dean Steve A. Kay welcomed guests and gave a brief history of the Community Service Awards tradition. Henry Salvatori, a trustee of the university, and his wife, Grace, were great philanthropists who gave generously to USC, he said. Two buildings on the University Park Campus were named in their honor: Grace Ford Salvatori Hall and the Salvatori Computer Science Center.

“Henry, an immigrant from Italy, came to America to experience what he called ‘real freedom,’ ” Kay said. “He strongly believed and would often remark that ‘freedom is not free, and we all must take responsibility for our society.’ He thought that service and volunteerism gave students a wonderful opportunity to fulfill their ‘civic duty.’ ”

In 1980, Grace Salvatori established the Extraordinary Community Service Award and Reception to encourage and recognize a graduating senior for his or her service to the community. In the early 1990s, the Office of Civic Engagement and the Division of Student Affairs joined USC Dornsife in co-sponsoring this event, adding many categories of winners and turning it into a dinner.

“With some 60 percent of our students engaged in a variety of service programs and projects, both academic and extracurricular, we are truly building a Trojan army of thoughtful, committed citizens who, as evidenced by those being recognized tonight, are changing the world in countless ways,” Kay said. “And I can’t tell you how inspired I am by that.”

Addressing the audience was Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry ’77, MPA ’81, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and a master’s in public administration from the USC Price School of Public Policy.

“JEP was one of my early activities at USC,” Perry said. “I had so much enthusiasm working with the kids in the community and helping them do their homework. It was just that simple. To help them with their math with their reading and writing. It was very fulfilling. I didn’t realize then it would be a foundation for what I would do much later.”

Los Angeles Councilman Paul Krekorian ’81, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from USC Dornsife, also spoke at the event. He was also involved in JEP as a student.

“As a lifelong Trojan, I’ve been in this room for many events,” he said. “And I can’t recall a time that I have found more inspiring than this evening — or a time when I’ve been more proud to be a Trojan.

“USC is a vital part of who we are as a city,” he added. “What I’m most proud of about the university is that it is producing the leaders of the future generation who are people of character and compassion — people who are devoted to service. The honorees tonight are a perfect example.”

Other winners included:

Activism and Advocacy Award

Chella Coleman and Deborah Vieyra of USC School of Dramatic Arts
Eugene Durrah of USC School of Social Work

Multiple Engagements

Conan Teng of Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Extraordinary Engagement Award

Brillante Wang of USC Marshall School of Business
Jane Desmond and Kendra King Treichler of USC Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Amanda Wong of USC School of Pharmacy
Thomas DeLorenzo of USC Price School of Public Policy
Claire Baugher of USC Student Affairs
Carly Woodworth of USC Financial Aid

Tammara Anderson, JEP executive director, who also spoke at the event, said this year’s Community Service Dinner was a true celebration of the connection between service and scholarship.

Thirteen participating schools and academic units across the University Park and the Health Sciences campuses converged to recognize the service of students and community partners who have made a positive impact on the USC neighborhood and across Los Angeles.

“This is an important event,” Anderson said. “The students honored tonight are a testament to the notion that universities and their communities can work together toward mutually beneficial goals.”

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