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Leading the way

Ken Graham and Isabelle Bespalko

Photo by Irene Fertik

To the students, they’re known simply as Ken and Isabelle.

But to president Steven B. Sample, Ken Graham and Isabelle Bespalko’s contributions as assistant lecturers are integral to the success of his course, “The Art and Adventures of Leadership.”

“Isabelle and Ken exemplify what it means to be a teaching assistant at a premier teaching and research university,” Sample said. “They are a key part of the team.”

A veteran of the Gulf War and an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Maj. Kenneth Graham won a Department of Political Science Teaching Award in 1994.

Previously, he worked as an instructor at Cal State- Long Beach and at Long Beach Community College. At USC, Graham is working toward his Ph.D. in political science, concentrating on international relations, human rights and comparative governments. He’s particularly interested in Latin American and Asian affairs.

In addition to his tour in the Gulf War, Graham has served with the Marines in Okinawa, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Japan, Guam, Korea and Mexico.u0000

Isabelle Bespalko comes to USC from Edmonton, Alberta, where for the past five years she has been the principal at an inner-city elementary school. In 1994, the school was recognized by the Canadian prime minister for outstanding improvement in math and science.

Thanks to a fellowship awarded by her school district, Bespalko is currently on leave from her job while she works on an Ed.D. in educational leadership at the School of Education.

Bespalko is also one of USC’s Presidential Fellows in the Leadership Institute. For her project in that elite program, she is co-producing a video on leadership (featuring Warren Bennis) with another Presidential Fellow, electrical engineering Ph.D. student Alberto Behar. Bespalko’s previous work experience also includes a stint as a consultant with the Washington, D.C.-based National Alliance for Restructuring Education.u0000u0000

Leading the way

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