Selecting the most heartwarming stories among the hundreds of Trojans who inspired us this past year is no easy task — but we did the hard work for you. Here are 11 shining examples of the generosity, sacrifice and hard work at the core of the Trojan Family.
‣ Troy Camp mentors
One of USC’s most treasured and beloved programs, Troy Camp offers academic tutoring, support and a weeklong adventure in the forest to hundreds of local kids. Three USC students who grew up in the program returned as volunteer counselors to help the next generation.
‣ India Anderson
For the first time in its storied history, the USC Trojan Marching Band selected a woman to lead its ranks. India Anderson, a tuba player and junior studying at the USC Thornton School of Music, gave the Spirit of Troy its marching orders this year as drum major.
‣ Gift of life
Two strangers became linked for life through USC’s Living Donor Program after USC doctors performed a liver transplant from an anonymous donor to a grateful recipient. The two met for the first time months after the successful procedure for a moving conversation.
‣ Lenai Wilkerson
Despite being told as a child that she didn’t have the right look to become a ballerina, Lenai Wilkerson forged ahead, becoming one of the first dancers to graduate from the USC Kaufman School of Dance. She repeatedly proved her critics wrong on her path to success, most recently by landing a contract with the premier Ballet Hispánico.
‣ Jacqueline Martinez
Jacqueline Martinez grew up in South L.A. helping her parents clean movie theaters in the early morning hours, a tiring job they still perform. Now a Mork Family Scholar, she is using her opportunities at USC to develop skills that will help families with similar backgrounds improve their quality of life.
‣ Street medicine
They crisscross the city of Los Angeles, patching up wounds, checking vital signs and treating infections. As members of the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Street Medicine team, these medical professionals and community health workers have a sole focus: addressing the unmet health care needs of people living on the streets.
‣ Shute siblings
After a tragic loss, four local teens found strength, support and family in their community. Their bonds only deepened when the Shute triplets and their older brother joined the Trojan Family this fall.
‣ Ivana Giang
USC valedictorian Ivana Giang grew up hearing her parents describe their forced flight from Vietnam and the struggles they faced while building a new life in the United States. It guided her studies on disparities in the educational system that hold back countless people from diverse backgrounds.
‣ Erdavria Simpson
She’s on the move from 6 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. each day, always exuding her passionate dedication to serving others. When she’s not studying for her second master’s from USC, Erdavria Simpson is an analyst at Northrop Grumman, a Navy reservist and a USC Spirit Leader.
‣ Faisal Rashid
Faisal Rashid made history this year by becoming the first sworn officer of Bangladeshi descent in the Los Angeles Police Department. He accomplished the feat while working full-time in radiation oncology and studying for his master’s in neuroimaging and informatics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
‣ Salma Ewing
When USC tennis phenom Salma Ewing won the finals of a tournament in Stellenbosch, South Africa, her mother began to sob through cheers of joy. The victory carried deep symbolic meaning for the family — living under the oppressive apartheid regime of South Africa had kept Ewing’s mother from playing on those very courts.
USC 2019 | A LOOK BACK — See more of our year-end package:
- Dramatic changes that helped put the university on a new course.
- A year of famous faces on campus.
- Athletic highlights that made Trojans stand up and cheer.
- Groundbreaking advances from our research labs.
- The top USC News stories you had to share.