Society 53, the leadership board of USC’s Student Alumni Society, was launched to strengthen ties between student leaders and alumni. It was established in 2008, so why the number 53 in the name?
It’s not a reference to a year, but instead an homage to the past: In 1880, USC opened its doors to an inaugural class of 53 students. The number 53 became the namesake for the student organization and also the number of its members.
The group celebrates a decade of Trojan leadership, mentorship and professional development this year. Max Slavkin ’09, the group’s first president, remembers when he was first approached by the USC Alumni Association to talk about building ties between student and alumni leaders. At the time, Slavkin was working with Delta Omicron Zeta, a USC-founded, co-ed leadership fraternity, and the university was looking to build something in a similar vein: an organization of student ambassadors closely tied to the alumni association.
Slavkin threw himself into researching how other universities were running student-alumni programs. An executive board was established and soon recruitment began. The opportunity to build a new leadership group from scratch was a huge pull for Society 53’s first students. “Members loved that they weren’t just running a program, they were inventing it,” Slavkin says. “It was like building a plane as you’re flying it.”
Society 53 created events like panel discussions and Trojan SCuppers, informal dinner parties often held in the homes of alumni. Other activities include Alumni Life Chats, where Trojans from different industries share insights about life and work, and the Senior SCend Off campus party to celebrate graduating seniors. Establishing these close connections and mentorship opportunities remain high on Society 53’s priority list.
“Alumni ties were one of the many resources that Society 53 offered, and it gave me a special appreciation for the strength of Trojan Family bonds,” Denise Ge ’14 says. As a Society 53 member, she remembers receiving guidance and great advice from several alumni mentors, including Kayla Wolonosky ’11, a compensation lead at Google, and Priya Rana Kapoor ’95, MFTH ’06, former director of USC’s London office.
A lot is said at USC about Trojan Family — Trojans care for Trojans. Society 53 is living proof this is real. Your USC experience doesn’t end once you leave.Yasmeen Serhan
Taking their mentorship to heart, it was natural for Ge to pay it forward. While serving as Society 53’s vice president of marketing during her senior year, Ge took new member Yasmeen Serhan ’16, then a sophomore, under her wing. “Creating an environment where everyone could flourish was vital in Society 53,” Ge says.
For Serhan, having both alumni mentors and fellow student members to look up to is one of her most cherished Society 53 memories. “A lot is said at USC about Trojan Family — Trojans care for Trojans,” she says. “Society 53 is living proof this is real. Your USC experience doesn’t end once you leave.”
That sense of legacy is important to senior Sydney Park, the group’s current president. She is determined to continue the traditions for future Trojan generations. “I see potential for Society 53 to grow and increase our presence on campus,” she says. “Community transparency, diversity, outreach… these are our incredible resources to share, values truly quintessential to the Trojan Family.”