We don’t break for summer at USC

Our impressive 2018 cohort of high school students from military families. I’m the one in the suit. It was hot. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Our impressive 2018 cohort of high school students from military families. I’m the one in the suit. It was hot. (USC Photo/David Sprague)

This university is an active and exciting place in the summer. We’ve had several outstanding programs on campus the last few weeks aimed at encouraging or continuing access to higher education for military veterans, high school students, children of enlisted military, first-generation scholars – the list goes on. If you were on campus, you may have seen them around, studying, in our residence and dining halls, taking selfies.

The Provost’s Pre-College Summer Scholarship for Military High School Students is one of these programs I’m happy to support. High school students from military families earn full scholarships to attend one of our highly-selective, rigorous four-week college credit summer programs. Course offerings are broad, including architecture, business, pre-law, and performing arts.

The Bovard Scholars program, now in its second year, is another geared toward high school students: This one is for rising seniors who receive a crash course in college admissions, financial aid, and career services. You can read about it here.

A cohort of undergrads are wrapping up their summers as recipients of the Provost’s First Generation Undergraduate Research Fellowships. These students are from three continents and they worked all summer researching diverse topics from fighting cancer to promoting good clinical practice to tattoo removal.

And, the Warrior-Scholar Project just wrapped up a week of academic boot camp for those transitioning out of the military. The culmination of the week was a dinner on Saturday in which students talked about how they didn’t think they had the confidence to apply, let alone succeed, in a university like ours, but after their week here, they definitely will apply.

USC has a long history of serving student-veterans and military families (please see my previous post on Vice Provost Mark Todd’s recent trip to Norfolk). And we continue to work to provide access to more students who are or have been service members, or have service members in their family.

One of our military high school students, Cassie Washburn, is entering her senior year of high school in Burbank. Her father was in special intelligence for 27 years and now works at a base in Washington. California is her latest – and favorite – state of at least ten she has lived in as her father moved around for his military career. She wants to be a special ed teacher and a writer, and she dreams of attending – and then writing for – Saturday Night Live. This summer, she studied Performing Comedy in the Summer Theater Conservatory. She shared one of her final assignments, a comedy sketch that gently teases (and was inspired by) her mother: a mother and daughter are food shopping, and every time the daughter reaches for something, the mother cringes and cites an article about how someone got sick from it.

Keoni Yonamine, whose mother was a C-5 Engine Maintenance Scheduler for 22 years and now works on Travis Air Force Base, is also entering his senior year. Among other places, he’s lived in Japan and England as his mother’s career took them around the world. He studied here in the Psychological Science & Society track. Keoni was excited about class trips to the Museum of Tolerance and the Midnight Mission Homeless Shelter and he described the importance of these practical experiences for his future career.

Cassie and Keoni are representative of our entire Summer 2018 cohort – these students are inspiring and engaging. We hope that, for our summer program students who aren’t already at USC, their experience here helps them clarify their goals for college, shows them that they are fully capable of applying to elite schools such as USC, and provides them context and focus for when they start their applications. And of course we hope to see them back as part of the Trojan Family.


– Michael W. Quick, August 14, 2018