Scholarship and Fellowship Celebration Spotlights Generosity, Academic Excellence

| April 2, 2021

Annual event brings together talented students and the donors who support their pursuits.

Hekimian Scholarship winner Jacob Totaro. (Photo/Jacob Totaro)

Hekimian Scholarship winner Jacob Totaro. (Photo/Jacob Totaro)

When you fund a scholarship, you change a life. When you change a life, you change the world.

That was the recurring theme on March 31 as USC Viterbi held its sixth annual Scholarship and Fellowship Celebration for faculty, staff, students and alumni who logged on from different time zones.

What usually takes place on campus was this time a Zoom production, but the sentiments were as strong as ever. The event, hosted by Senior Associate Dean of Advancement Mary Ann Schwartz, provided an opportunity for scholarship recipients to connect with some of the donors who made their college experience possible … and for the donors to see the effects of their generosity on students’ lives.

The night’s first speaker was Hekimian Family Scholarship recipient Jacob Totaro, a senior studying environmental engineering who expressed what scholarship support has meant to him.

“It has allowed me to make my dream of going to USC a reality,” he said. “When I found out that I received a scholarship, I was ecstatic. Continued scholarship support has made higher education affordable and feasible for students like me, expanding our horizons and empowering us to do more.”

Next up were Jerry and Janet Kohlenberger, two prominent donors of USC Viterbi scholarships, who expressed their appreciation for all the hard work and dedication of the student recipients.

“Janet and I discussed the topic of trying to give back some of what we were fortunate to receive, namely perhaps some scholarship money to those who otherwise might not be able to attend USC,” said Jerry. “So we set up scholarships at both Viterbi and Marshall, where I also attended, to enable that to happen.”

“I’ve been astounded at some of the projects these kids have worked on, it’s beyond my comprehension,” said Janet. “I’ve been so impressed.”

The Kohlenbergers are USC alumni, and Jerry was the recipient of the Seeley Mudd Engineering Scholarship as an undergraduate. The couple met on campus as students and pride themselves on their involvement in the Trojan Family ever since.

Closing the event, Senior Associate Dean for Viterbi Admissions & Student Engagement Kelly Goulis reminded everyone that generosity is what fuels the education of many at USC Viterbi.

“The need for scholarships is more urgent than ever,” she said. “As we continue to face times of uncertainty, the world will impatiently need talented engineers with their skills, their knowledge, their mindsets and their character, as soon as possible to help us engineer a new and bright future.”

You can find out more about scholarship and fellowship support at USC Viterbi here.

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