Patrons of Promis
Widney Society members’ generosity leads to life-changing opportunities for students and faculty. | PHOTO BY STEVE COHN

Ask USC’s most generous benefactors what motivates their gifts to the university, and their answers usually align: They want to further strengthen USC’s excellence in education, research, science, patient care, the arts and more.

At USC, members of the Widney Society are the vanguard of the effort to advance the university through philanthropy. Each member’s lifetime giving to USC stands at $1 million or more and has made an impact on all areas of the university.

About 400 Widney Society members and their guests gathered at a gala outside the Widney Alumni House in November to celebrate the university’s achievements and its promise for the future. During the gala, Widney Society members also celebrated the ongoing success of the historic Campaign for USC. But the event shined its brightest spotlight on students, who performed on stage and spoke about their rich academic experiences.

Jamie Kwong
Jamie Kwong spoke about her rich academic experiences

Among them was junior Jamie Kwong, an international relations major who is working toward her Master of Public Diplomacy while she earns her undergraduate degree.

Kwong has immersed herself in university life, where she serves as president of the Pan-Hellenic Council and vice president of the Student Alumni Society’s leadership board. Kwong’s hard work and enthusiasm both inside and outside the classroom paid off when she was selected as a Schaeffer Government Service Fellow. The program places USC undergrads in hard-to-get internships. The fellowship earned her a slot as a House Foreign Affairs Committee intern in Washington, D.C., which sparked Kwong’s passion for a career in public service. Next up: the Central Intelligence Agency, where she’ll serve as the agency’s first “e-intern” in its department dedicated to advanced analytics.

Generous benefactors, such as members of the Widney Society, help make prized academic experiences and valuable professor-student relationships like this possible.

“I give credit for it all to USC and the many unique experiences it has given me,” Kwong said.

Part of what enables student success stories like Kwong’s is the dedication of USC’s faculty. Guests at the gala learned through a video how Andrea Armani, associate professor of electrical engineering, chemical engineering and materials science, helps her enthusiastic students perform research that matters.

Armani’s lab, which has 20 students ranging from undergraduates to postdoctoral fellows working side by side, has developed new ways to detect cancer, diagnose malaria and even make the internet run faster. Armani believes her role as a mentor contributes greatly to the success of the lab—and her career.

“My favorite part about being a professor is I get to interact with students. Students are always posing the questions of ‘what if?’ and ‘why not?’ It pushes me to be a better engineer and better person,” Armani said.

Generous benefactors, such as members of the Widney Society, help make prized academic experiences and valuable professor-student relationships like this possible.

“Although USC was first envisioned by one man, the dream of a great university was only possible when the entire Trojan Family worked together,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias during a speech at the gala. “Let us continue to stand side by side as we forge the future of our beloved university.”

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