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USC hails class of 2014 stars

President Nikias says the scholars embody the qualities of the ideal Trojan

USC honored its most accomplished and inspiring students from the class of 2014 at the annual Student Recognition Ceremony.

The 230 honorees, who were selected from more than 15,000 graduating students, represented the highest achievers in every field of study who also made the most lasting impact on USC.

USC Vice Provost of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry, who delivered welcoming remarks, told them, “We are better today than yesterday because of you.”

Aja Canyon and Kirsten Rice

Aja Canyon, left, and Kirsten Rice were named to The Order of the Laurel and the Palm for excellent scholarship. (USC Photo/Andrea Bennett)

USC President C. L. Max Nikias congratulated the young scholars, whom he said embodied the qualities of the ideal Trojan and would become tomorrow’s leaders of society.

Winners of The Order of the Laurel and the Palm were announced for the first time at the ceremony. This award, which is given to less than 1 percent of the undergraduate graduating class, recognizes exemplary scholarship and leadership in multiple facets of university life and beyond.

The 21 inductees — which included a trained ballroom dancer who speaks 10 languages, a certified pilot who has conducted extensive research on Myanmar’s political reform, the founders and leaders of numerous organizations and initiatives, and both Mr. and Miss USC 2013-14 — were not informed of their selection before the event.

This year’s recipients were Stephanie Aceves, Kiara Adams, Evangeline Alva, Sherryl Bako, Claire Baugher, Justin Bogda, Brenton Caldwell, Aja Canyon, Morgan Furlong, Alicia Guo, Angie Kim, Gloria Leung, Reid Lidow, Mellissa Linton, Adeel Mohammadi, Monica Parra, Carlos Portela, Maya Raman, Kirsten Rice, Lauren Salas-Mationg and Leah Singerman.

“It’s overwhelming. I didn’t expect it at all,” said Canyon, a civil engineering major, after learning of her selection. “It is an honor.”

Rice, a civil engineering major and photography minor who graduateD with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, also said she never suspected she’d receive the award. Neither did her parents, who flew from Houston to join her.

“I’m really proud of her. All of her hard work is getting recognized,” her father, Ken Rice, said after the ceremony. “It is kind of surprising. We didn’t know the magnitude of all of her accomplishments until today.”

Making their mark

The awards ceremony, which was held in Bovard Auditorium, recognized a number of other students who made an unequivocal mark during their time at USC.

Ten undergraduates were selected to receive a $10,000 USC Renaissance Scholars Prize for their excellent scholarship in two or more widely disparate fields of study: Kauser Ali, Claire Bazley, Morgan Cheeks, Brendan Colvert, Grant Dixon, Brandon Martinez, Karissa Masciel, Adeel Mohammadi, Kaitlyn Yim and Alyssa Zhou.

Another 10 students earned the USC Discovery Scholars Prize of $10,000 each for their exceptional original scholarship or creative work at USC. Their versatile projects ranged from determining the rate by which stars are born to a one-man theatrical performance and to groundbreaking research on mitochondria’s role in cancer.

The winners were Michael Bertch, Peter Cameron, Brandon Glousman, Richelle Gribble, Saad Haddad, Julia Lazzari-Dean, Matthew Orr, Carlos Portela, Kevin Reinhardt and Tiffany Wang.

The USC Global Scholars Prize of $10,000 was awarded to 10 graduates who have done significant research or scholarship abroad during their undergraduate studies. The group’s achievements included the development of a human rights curriculum adopted by the World Health Organization, the study of privacy policies between the United States and the European Union and the engineering of more cost-efficient structures for the developing world.

The recipients included Jessica Friedmann, Zachary Gima, Alice Hall-Partyka, Emily Holmes, Katherine Kelsh, Jorge Perez, Laura Pochowski, Nora Snyder, Anish Tilak and Tatumn Walter.

The Order of Arete, the highest honor accorded graduate students, was bestowed upon 63 students; the Order of Troy, which is awarded for extraordinary service to the campus community by undergraduates, was given to 112 students.

Among the recipients of USC’s academic honors for achieving a 4.0 GPA through their entire undergraduate studies were USC Provost’s Award winners Eliza Asherian, Mary Hargis, Jung-Hwa Kang, Julia McBeth and Mia Zee; the Emma Josephine Bradley Bovard Award winners Grace Chediak, Julia Lazzari-Dean, Mabel Tsui and Kaitlyn Yim; and the University Trustees Award winners Patrick Atchison, Benjamin Diaz, Reid Lidow, Aaron Lieberman, Brandon Martinez, Adeel Mohammadi and Awadi Rathugamage.

Lidow was congratulated for his receipt of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship and Fan Fan, John Hernandez and Diem-Tran Nguyen were honored for winning Fulbright U.S. Student Grants.

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USC hails class of 2014 stars

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