A Sparkling Rite of Passage
They didn’t “plant a sprig of ivy” as in 1913 or watch the smoking of the “Pipe of Peace” as in 1915, but on May 11 at Alumni Park, more than 8,000 USC students celebrated the traditional rite of passage into the ranks of Trojan alumni. “This is the most joyful and momentous occasion of the academic year,” said USC President Steven B. Sample. “The Trojan Family has made this great university vibrant and enduring, and Commencement serves as a powerful symbol of our lifelong and worldwide connections as Trojans.” Speaker Ted Koppel advised the graduates to avoid a myopic worldview that glosses over pressing problems, adding, “May you find joy when you least expect it and courage when you need it most.” Valedictorian Colin Koproske ’07 urged that the qualities of skepticism and curiosity be carried to the working world. “Most importantly,” he added, “let us constantly remind our co-workers how much better our football team was than theirs.”
Commencement brought a sparkling day filled with pomp, pageantry and a campus awash with celebration. The 8,000 graduates included 300 newly minted Ph.D.s, the largest class in USC history. The Trojan Band played, platform events were projected on huge video screens for the throngs of onlookers surrounding Alumni Park and compelling speakers – from interactive media pioneer Will Wright to songwriter/composer Randy Newman to LA Times columnist Steve Lopez – made for memorable school ceremonies.
›› SMILIN’ IN THE AISLES The day in pictures, clockwise from top left: A popular photo-op for new grads was the graduation year rendered in balloons in front of Alumni House; a jubilant Clint Eastwood after his “hooding” as a Doctor of Humane Letters clearly made his day; international relations and philosophy grad Clay Alderman uses alternate transportation to get to the USC College ceremony near Heritage Hall; honorary Doctor of Laws recipient Joyce Kennard ‘71, JD ‘74, MPA ‘74 listens intently to a speech; flag bearers gather by Bovard Administration Building to lead the processional for the main ceremony; Tina Givrad, a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, shares her diploma with her son Grant Sina; a smiling group of engineering grad students moments before they threw their mortarboards in the air at the base of Tommy Trojan; President Steven B. Sample presents Ted Koppel with his honorary Doctor of Laws degree. (The fourth honorary degree recipient, Arvid Carlsson, was unable to attend.) Sample urged graduates to remember the “intangible attributes” central to USC’s mission, including wisdom, insight, love of truth and beauty, moral discernment, understanding of the self and respect for others. “These are the great gifts USC has to give,” he said. “These are the values that will sustain you and guide you as you journey through life.” He then told the proud graduates, “You are forever a part of the Trojan Family.”
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