A Spotlight Shines On Generosity

| October 6, 2017

USC Viterbi’s 2017 Scholarship and Fellowship Dinner connects donors to the students they so enthusiastically champion

Rhea Choudhury, USC Viterbi junior (center) and Richardson Merit Research Awardee, is pictured here with her Trojan benefactors: Kenneth Richardson, M.S. ’54, former president and COO of Hughes Aircraft Company, and his wife, Charlotte. Photo by Steve Cohn Photography

Kindness took center stage on Wednesday, October 4 as USC Viterbi hosted its third annual Scholarship and Fellowship Dinner.

Over 100 guests gathered at Town and Gown for the evening, which provided an opportunity for several students to communicate face-to-face with their respective benefactors.

“Your support gives our students the essentials they need,” USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos said during the night’s keynote address. “It is a genuine act of selflessness to assist a deserving student so that they can become successful.”

Indeed, scholarship and fellowship support is more urgent than ever and among the school’s top priorities. USC Viterbi is constantly competing with other leading academic institutions that offer an array of support packages; as a leading engineering institution, it never wants to lose a top candidate because it does not have the ability to help him/her.

Dean Yortsos reiterated this goal by calling attention to several of the school’s achievements: its important strides among the admission of female students – this year’s freshman class hit 44 percent – its overall commitment to diversity, its pacesetting participating in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program, the success of student organizations like the USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, and various centers that advance the idea of Engineering+, the use of engineering to enhance other disciplines.

“We have to reinvent ourselves every year,” he said, referring to the rapid pace of change in, among other things, technology and education. “We have to have that mentality or we will be left behind. We must hug the exponential.”

The night’s featured speakers included CAE Group president – and alumnus – Gene Colabatistto (B.S. Aero ’82, M.S. ISSM ’87), who, along with his wife, Connie, established the Colabatistto Family Scholarship in 2015. He remarked on the meaning of giving back and the reason why support is so important to both of them.

CAE Group President and alumnus Gene Colabatistto presenting on the meaning of giving back. Photo by Steve Cohn photography

“A hallmark of a great institution is to serve more than its own interests,” he said. “It’s not just about blackboards and books, but the entire experience. In that regard, a chance for a true education is made possible by scholarship support.”

Colabatistto said that attending USC enabled him to become “prepared, confident, mobile and unafraid,” all characteristics that he believes will emerge after setting someone on a proper educational path.

“Giving is my connection to the university,” he said. “Going long on USC is a winner’s game, and that means investing in students.”

Along with Mr. Colabatistto, USC Viterbi junior Rhea Choudhury explained how support has changed her life. Pursuing a major in biomedical engineering, Choudhury is the recipient of a University Trustee Scholarship and is a Viterbi Undergraduate Research Fellow as well as a Richardson Merit Research Awardee.

“Looking back on my two years here at USC, I think I’ve been able to accomplish a lot,” she said. “There is no question that I could not have done any of it without the scholarship that got me here in the first place, and the continued support I’ve received from USC Viterbi to truly follow my passions.

“At USC, I’m constantly surrounded and challenged by the absolute best. Thank you so much to the donors — you are the reason I am standing here today. You have given me the ability to discover my passions and pursue my dreams.”

Throughout the night, hosted by Margaret Kean, USC Viterbi’s senior associate dean for advancement, guests watched several video presentations that highlighted the USC Viterbi student experience. One of them, below, showcased several s scholarship and fellowship recipients and the emotions they have toward the benevolence shown their way.

For information about giving to USC Viterbi, please click here.