Greatness and Gratitude

Michael Speier | March 21, 2024

USC Viterbi celebrated academic excellence and the power of giving back at its annual Scholarship and Fellowship Dinner

From left: The night’s donor speaker Linnie Haynesworth (’80), student speaker Ella Rawlings, USC Viterbi’s namesake Andrew Viterbi, student speaker Josh Rodriguez, and USC Viterbi’s Dean Yannis Yortsos (Photo/Steve Cohn)

From left: The night’s donor speaker Linnie Haynesworth (’80), student speaker Ella Rawlings, USC Viterbi’s namesake Andrew Viterbi, student speaker Josh Rodriguez, and USC Viterbi’s Dean Yannis Yortsos (Photo/Steve Cohn)

Generosity took center stage on March 20, as the USC Viterbi School of Engineering hosted its ninth annual Scholarship and Fellowship dinner at Town & Gown.

Celebrating outstanding students and the donors who support them, the event has become one of USC Viterbi’s signature nights.

With the school’s namesake, Andrew Viterbi, in the audience, this year’s dinner was particularly meaningful because it was held during the 20th naming anniversary year, which the university feted in late February at a spirited event at the Conrad Hotel in downtown L.A.

The first scholarship at what is now USC Viterbi was established in 1955. Since then, thousands of students have benefited from the kindness and commitment of alumni, parents, friends, corporations and foundations.

Today, the school is home to nearly 175 endowments for scholarships and fellowships, an astounding number that signifies the importance our donors place on helping students.

“The impact of a scholarship reflects the noble values of the donor, and its impact is to shape the same values in the recipient: to nourish and build self-confidence and pride, and to give rise to a deep understanding of our shared human bonds,” said Dean Yannis Yortsos in his keynote speech.

Yortsos also espoused the importance of giving back and why scholarship and fellowship support is such a necessity in today’s environment.

“Securing financial support, scholarships, fellowships, and incentives is crucial,” he said. “It is ultimately a requirement if we wish to nurture the talent that will help us navigate the complex challenges that will come with the extraordinary developments in technology and to provide the trustworthiness sorely needed in today’s world.”

Also speaking at the event was Nora Sandoval, USC Viterbi’s executive director of student engagement.

“One of USC Viterbi’s most notable and enviable qualities is that we are a family; in fact, a Trojan Family. And tonight is another example of how family comes together when it matters. Scholarship and fellowship support unites us; it makes all of us better and stronger for our students.”

As is tradition, the night featured some inspirational words from students and donors. First up was Ella Rawlings, a sophomore pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering with a focus on mechanical engineering. She is the recipient of the Dr. Kemal Demirciler Memorial Scholarship.

“This recognition has propelled my commitment to innovate in medical technology, a field where I aim to turn adversity into advancement,” she said. “These types of scholarships and fellowships are vital because they enable students to accomplish their educational and professional objectives without dreading financial hardship, creating an environment favorable to intellectual curiosity and imaginative thinking.”

After Rawlings, junior Josh Rodriguez addressed the crowd. Rodriguez is studying mechanical engineering and is the recipient of the Stephen C. Schrank Endowed Scholarship and the Colabatistto Family Scholarship.

Donor speaker Linnie Haynesworth (’80) addressed the Town & Gown attendees at the ninth annual Scholarship and Fellowship dinner on March 20

Donor speaker Linnie Haynesworth (’80) addressed the Town & Gown attendees at the ninth annual Scholarship and Fellowship dinner on March 20

“Scholarships are not just a recognition of my academic achievements; they are a validation of my potential and a testament to the power of education to transform lives,” he said. “With this support, I can continue to pursue my passion for mechanical engineering knowing that financial barriers will not hinder my aspirations.”

The night concluded with remarks from Linnie Haynesworth, a 1980 USC Viterbi alumna and a member of its Board of Councilors.

Haynesworth is retired from her position as vice president of the Cyber & Intelligence Mission Solutions Division at Northrop Grumman, where she worked for almost 40 years. She recently established the Linnie Rivers Haynesworth Engineering Diversity Fund.

Haynesworth championed the importance of giving back to students, “so they can (have) the full experience without that worry and burden of lack of resources, and so they can focus on their programs, their work for the future, and the impact they will bring. So they can, with confidence, enjoy and take on the opportunity that is before them.”

Kaci Silverman, the school’s senior associate dean of advancement, emceed the evening, which kicked off with a visit from the USC Trojan Marching Band.

Published on March 21st, 2024

Last updated on March 21st, 2024

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