After years of hard work, Brett Ressler held the key to his dreams: admission to the USC Marshall School of Business.
But elation quickly turned to questions when he saw the cost of tuition and fees. As a Navy veteran, Ressler had faced many challenges, but he didn’t know how to overcome this one. How would he pay for his USC degree?
“Military people are problem solvers, and the more we realize there might not be a solution, the more frustrated we get,” Ressler says.
His persistence goes back a few years. After high school, Ressler was one of the first in his family to leave Iowa when he departed for U.S. Navy boot camp. Despite a serious injury during advanced training that required extensive surgeries, he served aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. When he finished his military service, he headed to junior college for two years, studying for hours to earn the grades he needed to get into USC in 2012.
Sharon and I believe the individuals who have served their country in the armed forces should be allowed the best university education—and they will find that at USC.William J. Schoen
Thankfully, he got a financial hand at USC from supporters he’d never met: USC Trustee William J. Schoen ’60, MBA ’63 and his wife, Sharon.
Ressler may not have known the Schoens, but the Schoens knew all too well the challenges he was facing. A scholarship enabled William Schoen to attend USC after serving in the Marine Corps, and the couple is on a mission to give other young veterans the same opportunity.
In 1986, they established the Schoen Family Scholarship for Veterans Endowment, which provides scholarships for student-veterans at USC Marshall and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. In 2012, the Schoens dramatically bolstered the endowment with an additional $10 million gift. To date, the endowment has provided $1.9 million in financial support to 242 students.
“Sharon and I believe the individuals who have served their country in the armed forces should be allowed the best university education—and they will find that at USC,” Schoen says.
With the assistance of the Schoen Family Scholarship, along with a USC grant and the GI Bill, Ressler, 29, graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He started work as a district manager for Aldi, a global grocery chain, and is looking forward to his wedding in July to fiancée Alyssa Campos. He says his USC education and contacts in the Trojan network have set him up for a lifetime of success.
“The scholarship recipients write the Schoens thank-you letters, but you can’t really put into words what it means,” Ressler says. “There’s a monetary value to the scholarship, but it’s much more than that.
The Schoens are helping provide us with an education, and that’s something that can never be taken away.”