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Scholarship savvy

Tory Holland, a senior at USC Dornsife, has taken advantage of the many scholarship opportunities at USC, some from the USC Alumni Association. (Photo/Pamela J. Johnson)

Tory Holland, a senior at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, was holding down a job at the Joint Educational Project (JEP), working 15 hours a week supervising volunteers while taking classes as a double major.

Some days, she worked and took classes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., then stayed up most of the night studying and finishing papers.

“Oh my gosh; my head is spinning,” Holland said, recalling the feeling. “Can I really do this?”

Holland excelled in both her studies and her job. In addition to the experience working at JEP — a service-learning program founded in 1972 — she was trying to raise money for her tuition at USC.

She and her parents, who are both in the full-time ministry at Turning Point L.A., a Christian church in Panorama City, Calif., had taken out separate loans to cover the cost of tuition. Her father is the senior minister at the church.

After receiving an email from USC Dornsife about scholarship opportunities, Holland did her research. She applied and received several scholarships, some from the USC Alumni Association.

“I decided to apply because I’m very conscious of the fact that it’s a privilege to attend USC,” Holland said. “So I wanted to do my part to help my parents, who are trying to pay for my education.”

The USC Alumni Association and its related entities award more than $2 million in alumni scholarships to continuing students each year. Individuals must apply for scholarships during the academic year prior to the year of funding. Alumni scholarships are given only for tuition, which is $21,081 each semester for undergraduates.

Students receiving full tuition benefits from tuition remission, trustee scholarships, athletic scholarships or other sources are not eligible for an alumni scholarship award. Only continuing undergraduate students are eligible. Applicants must have completed at least one semester at USC.

The application deadline for the 2013-14 academic year is Feb. 1. Applicants may apply for multiple scholarships at one time. The association has four categories of scholarships: alumnae, alumni club, scion and affinity scholarships.

For two consecutive years under the alumnae category, Holland received the Joseph Patrick Endowed Scholarship from the Trojan League of Los Angeles. The approximately $6,000 in tuition was a big leg up.

Holland entered USC Dornsife on a Dean’s Scholarship, which covers a quarter of the student’s tuition. For her academic excellence, she received the Sylas and Rose Marx Meyer Scholarship.

She also earned the J. Wesley Robb Endowed Scholarship in Human Values. Students for that scholarship are chosen for their academic achievements, demonstration of significant moral leadership on campus, evidence of a commitment to human values and deep concern for others. Among other things, Holland created and led Bible studies for the USC campus chapter of the Los Angeles Church of Christ.

With that scholarship, her name was engraved on a wall of Leavey Library along with other recipients during a ceremony officiated by USC President C. L. Max Nikias.

“I honestly can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s crazy. It’s humbling; it’s exciting. I feel so honored.”

Holland, who will graduate in May, is at the threshold of her life. A double major in history at USC Dornsife and public relations at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, she has been offered a job at Teach for America at a Los Angeles school.

If she takes the two-year post, she hopes it will help guide her to her calling.

“I hope it will be one of those life-changing experiences,” she said. “And it will help me to discover my true passion.”

Holland is drawn toward teaching history but also sees the possibility of public relations work in a firm or nonprofit.

“It’s the making a difference part that interests me the most,” she said.

For more information about USC Alumni Association scholarships and its online application, visit

To research USC Dornsife continuing student scholarships, visit and

Scholarship savvy

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