University leaders, fellow Trojans and friends of USC came together Thursday night to honor and celebrate the graduating high school seniors of the USC Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative.
At the event, the program’s namesakes — USC Trustee and alumnus William McMorrow and his wife, Leslie — were honored for their generous and unwavering support.
“Here’s how the dictionary defines support: ‘The act of helping someone by giving love, encouragement, etc.’ ” interim USC President Wanda M. Austin told the crowd. “What the McMorrows have done is all of that, especially the ‘etc.’ ”
The rigorous, seven-year pre-college program helps prepare local students and their families for higher education. Children accepted to the program in the sixth grade to commit to early morning and after school tutoring sessions along with Saturday academy sessions, the latter requiring the parents and students attend.
The 2019 NAI class includes 57 graduates; 19 of those seniors will attend USC. Others will attend schools including Cal Poly Pomona; Claremont McKenna College; the University of California, Davis; the University of California, Irvine; and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“This is the ultimate proud moment for a parent; it is so well deserved,” William McMorrow said. “You made so many sacrifices to ensure your children have every opportunity in life, providing love and guidance to pursue a quality education. The gift you have given your children with your involvement is priceless and will serve them for many years to come.”
To date, 1,097 students have completed the program with 83-percent enrollment as freshmen at 4-year universities, and 42-percent enrollment at USC.
The USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative is funded in part by contributions from the USC Good Neighbors Campaign.