Michael Felix ’83 grew up just 20 minutes east of USC in Pico Rivera, but the university might as well have been on another planet.
Neither of his parents went to college. Despite being recognized as a gifted student, Felix didn’t expect to pursue a degree, either. “That was never the mindset growing up,” he says.
Thankfully, one particularly insistent teacher at his high school demanded that he send out applications to at least a few universities, and he got into USC. It was a fortuitous first step on a path that has led Felix to his new post as the 95th president of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors.
“It was one of those life-changing influences,” he says. “I’m incredibly grateful.”
That’s not to say the path at USC was easy. College life was a culture shock. He recalls wandering around campus in a daze, feeling out of place and unsure whether he deserved to be there. But earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the USC Marshall School of Business while working 30 hours a week left little time to be distracted.
Life got even busier after graduation, with a growing family and a new career in financial services. He found success at Los Angeles-based investment firm The Capital Group Companies, rising to his current position as global head of investment operations. As he climbed in his career, he began to think about the people who helped him along the way.
There have been so many people at USC who have graciously opened their door and embraced me for who I am.
“It started to hit home just how important USC had been in transforming my life,” he says. He started volunteering with the USC Latino Alumni Association, then joined its corporate advisory council. When his oldest daughter enrolled at USC, she took dance classes, inspiring Felix to support the university’s dance program, then housed at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. He now serves on its board of councilors. Despite his busy work schedule, Felix soon found himself coming to campus three or four times a week. The family gathered at USC regularly to cheer on daughters Taylor ’13 and Jordan ’17, who both became Song Girls. Felix’s wife, Debbie, joined in as a board member of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Their younger son, Austin, is a sophomore studying economics. Their older son, Brenden, is considering the master’s program in real estate development.
And Felix found other ways to stay engaged. He joined the USC Caruso Catholic Center’s advisory board. Next was the USC Associates’ board of directors. His longstanding support earned him the USC Alumni Association’s Alumni Service Award in 2014.
Now as he assumes one of the association’s highest posts, Felix hopes to ensure access to the Trojan Family experience. He is especially interested in programs that encourage young alumni to become involved. His other priority is supporting first-generation Trojans from diverse backgrounds, helping those who are following a path similar to his.
“There have been so many people at USC who have graciously opened their door and embraced me for who I am,” he says. “That’s something that really inspires me and makes me want to do even more.”
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