Fighting On! 100 Years and Beyond
At 480,000 strong, USC alumni are the driving force behind the special bond that unites all Trojans. And for the next year, USC will be “Celebrating a Century of the Trojan Family” to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of our alumni association.
A Force from the Start
Since the beginning, alumni have played a major role in creating the USC of today—helping to fuel the growth of our university from a one-building school to an academic, research, artistic and athletic powerhouse. Today, alumni continue to define our Trojan Family by giving of their time, talent and treasure. Make an impact this year by volunteering or supporting our Centennial Philanthropy Initiative.
All in the Trojan Family
Today’s USC Alumni Association includes vibrant alumni communities, including multicultural, age-based, women’s, veterans and professional networking groups. The Trojan Family is known worldwide for supporting Trojans through mentoring, volunteering and contributing to scholarships.
Bringing Alumni Together
The USC Alumni Association unites alumni and strengthens their ties to USC and one another. From the first Homecoming in 1924 to FightOnline, today’s online alumni portal, connecting Trojans was, is and will always be the essence of what we do. Whether you’re participating in an annual tradition or exploring our event calendar, there are so many ways to connect with the Trojan Family. Make sure you save the date – November 2–4 – for Alumni & Reunion Weekend, taking place in conjunction with Homecoming.
The centennial celebrations of the group – 100 years old today – communicate a “come one, come all” message to alumni.
USC alumni are the driving force behind the special bond that unites all Trojans. And for the next year, USC will be “Celebrating a Century of the Trojan Family” to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of our alumni association.
Learn how the USC Alumni Association has made an indelible impact on the life of USC and the Trojan Family from its founding in 1923 to today.
Founding of General Alumni Association
There were nearly 4,800 members in the first year of this newly formed alumni association!
The alumni association hosts the festivities, which include a parade featuring horse-drawn floats and an occasional car; USC beats Syracuse 16-0 in the one-year-old Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The alumni association raises funds to donate a bronze Trojan statue to the university to mark its 50th anniversary. Modeled after USC football players, Tommy’s pedestal is inscribed with the qualities of the ideal Trojan: “Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous, Ambitious.”
USC’s Highest Alumni Honor
Economist Thomas Nixon Carver (Class of 1891) receives the first Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award, launching the annual USC Alumni Awards tradition.
Dedication of Alumni Park
Three years after the alumni association purchased and donated the land to USC, university and alumni leaders celebrate the dedication of “Alumni Memorial Campus”(Alumni Park). This picturesque one-square block in the heart of University Park Campus features the historic Youth Triumphant fountain.
Alumni Association Scholarships
Gwynn Wilson (Class of 1921), former alumni association president, establishes the university SCholarship program, the predecessor of today’s Alumni Association scholarship program, which awards nearly $4 million in financial assistance to deserving students each year.
Trojan Women Organize
USC’s alumnae (women’s) groups form the Alumnae Coordinating Council, which continues to foster collaboration and support among USC’s 13 women’s groups.
Eight Mexican American alums and leaders establish USC’s Mexican American Alumni Association, which is later renamed in 2012 to better reflect the group’s diversifying constituency.
Dating back to 1880, USC’s original “University Building” has been moved four times.
Noted civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Thomas Kilgore Jr., with the support of community leaders, establishes the USC Ebonics Support Group, which later becomes the USC Black Alumni Association.
The affinity travel organization hosts its first trip—a cruise on the Rhine with 138 Trojans.
Originally called the Asian Pacific American Support Group, it moves under the umbrella of the alumni association in 2001.
Officially recognized by USC and originally established within USC Student Affairs, it moves under the umbrella of the alumni association in 2003.
A New Name
The General Alumni Association becomes the USC Alumni Association and eliminates membership fees.
Named in honor of the 53 students in USC’s inaugural class, the group launches to foster connections between student and alumni. Today, it serves as the leadership board of the Student Alumni Society.
The event begins as a half-day forum at the Davidson Continuing Education Center on campus.
Located in the newly constructed Ronald Tutor Campus Center, the office brings together the alumni association and its various affinity groups under one roof.
More than 1,500 alumni and friends participate in the inaugural USC Alumni Day of SCervice, featuring 54 community service projects across 18 states and nine nations.
To bring alumni together with shared interests and professions, the alumni association forms the Alumni Education, Real Estate and Veterans networks. They are later joined by the Alumni Entrepreneurs Network, the Trojan Entertainment Network and the Trojan Women’s Network.
The official alumni portal is re-launched, which lets users connect with fellow alums, register for events, update contact info, set communication preferences, request digital membership cards and more!
We mark our 100th anniversary with a year-long celebration of our strong Trojan Family ties, to USC and to our worldwide alumni community.
Celebrating 100 years of bringing Trojans together, we are excited to invite alumni back to campus to participate in our most treasured tradition before the Trojans take the field against the Washington Huskies on November 4.
Past & Present
Raphael Soriano ’34
is regarded as one of the visionaries of mid-century modern architecture. After interning with two architectural masters, Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler, he began making his own mark through his innovative use of prefabricated steel and aluminum structures in residential and commercial design and construction. One of Soriano’s most iconic designs is L.A.’s Shulman House, which was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1987—the year before Soriano passed away.
Buu Van Nygren EdD ’21
became the youngest person elected president of the Navajo Nation in 2022. The presidency wields a great deal of influence because of the Navajo Nation’s size. It has a population of 400,000, and has the largest land base of any tribe, with 27,000 square miles extending into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Half-Navajo and half-Vietnamese, Van Nygren is focusing on several priorities, including investing in business development; creating sustainable jobs; mitigating the effects of climate change on Navajo land; and improving public safety programs.
Dora De Larios ’57
was an inventive ceramist and acclaimed Latina artist who made an indelible mark on the art world. She found inspiration in her Mexican heritage to create decorative vessels, sculptures and large-scale installations that illuminate the female figure, mythological characters and her love of nature. Her work has been exhibited at major museums, and in 1977, she was commissioned to create dinnerware for the White House’s annual Senate Ladies Luncheon. De Larios later teamed with her daughter and son-in-law to launch a dinnerware collection in 2012.
Kristen Kavanaugh MSW ’12
is an LGBTQ+ advocate and vice chair of the U.S. Department of Defense’s inaugural Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. This committee provides advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the improvement of racial/ethnic diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity within the department, with a primary focus on military personnel. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Kavanaugh also co-founded the Military Acceptance Project (MAP), which helped lead to the military’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a discriminatory policy pertaining to LGBTQ+ service members.
Crispus Attucks Wright ’36, LLB ’38
was an influential civil rights lawyer, businessman and major supporter of the USC Gould School of Law. The son of a former enslaved person, Wright grew up in Los Angeles and became interested in the law after interacting with several Black attorneys in the 1920s and ’30s. After graduating, he set up his own practice, where his clients included the Independent Retailers Association of Southern California. In 1997, he established the Crispus Attucks Wright Scholarships for USC Gould School students committed to practicing in underserved communities.
Katinka Hosszu ’12
is an Olympic champion competitive swimmer who’s been dubbed the “Iron Lady” for her steely strength in the water. Since making her international debut at the 2004 Summer Olympics, the Hungarian national has won 97 international medals—just three short of her goal of 100—including three gold medals and a silver at five Olympics. She is also the first swimmer (male or female) to hold world records in all five individual medley events at the same time. While at USC, Hosszu won five NCAA championships and was named All-American 20 times.
Troy Polamalu ’11
is a USC football great and former Pittsburgh Steelers safety who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2020. The two-time All-American was drafted in the first round, 16th player overall, of the 2003 National Football League Draft. Regarded as the premier safety of his era, Polamalu was a defensive leader who guided the Steelers to seven playoff appearances, five division titles and two Super Bowl victories in 12 years. In addition, he and his wife Theodora support several charities through their family foundation, including a biennial football camp in American Samoa.
Michael Tilson Thomas ’67, MM ’76
is a world-renowned conductor and composer who has won 12 Grammy Awards for his recordings. He is the music director laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the founder and artistic director laureate of the New World Symphony, America’s orchestral academy. The latter, founded in 1987, is dedicated to the development of young artists. His compositions include From the Diary of Anne Frank and Meditations on Rilke, as well as Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. In 2010, he received the National Medal of Arts.
Joyce Kennard ’71, MPA/JD ’74
is a former associate justice on the California Supreme Court. She is the first Asian American, and only the second woman, to serve on the state’s high court. She also chaired the California Judicial Council’s Appellate Advisory Committee. Born in Indonesia to multi-ethnic (Dutch, Indonesian, Chinese and German) parents, Kennard spent part of her childhood imprisoned in an internment camp in Java during the Japanese occupation. At age 20, she emigrated to the United States. During her storied legal career, Kennard received many honors, including the Japanese American Bar Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tracy Walder ’00
is a former Delta Gamma sorority sister who took an unexpected career path after graduation: she joined the CIA and worked as a special operative in counter-terrorism in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. As well as foiling two plots involving weapons of mass destruction, she identified and charted terrorist leaders planning poison attacks worldwide. She later joined the FBI and helped expose two individuals stealing nuclear submarine blueprints and sending them to China. Today, Walder teaches criminal justice and critical issues in domestic terrorism at Texas Christian University.
Dorothy Wright Nelson LLM ’56
is a legal trailblazer who made history in 1969, when she became the first woman dean of a major law school—her alma mater, the USC Gould School of Law. She had joined USC Gould’s faculty in 1957 as the school’s first female professor. During her tenure as dean, Nelson focused on making USC Gould more diverse by encouraging more women and students of color to enroll. Nelson is currently a senior circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Larry “Buster” Crabbe ’32
was a champion swimmer and two-time Olympian who won a gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. As a competitive swimmer, he broke five world records and won more than 50 international and national championships. He later parlayed his Olympic fame into a film career, most notably as Flash Gordon in the classic science fiction serials of the 1930s.
Sammy Lee MD ’47
became the first male diver ever to win back-to-back gold medals when he competed in the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics. The son of Korean immigrants, Lee as a high school student set his sights on winning a gold medal and becoming a doctor. After winning his first national championship in 1942, Lee put diving on hold to attend medical school at USC. After the 1952 Olympics, he retired from diving and turned to coaching while also working as an eye, nose and throat specialist. Lee passed away in 2016.
Rachel Scott ’15
is one of the youngest correspondents in the history of broadcast network news — and one of the very few Black American network news reporters — to cover Capitol Hill. She began that beat on January 6, 2021, when she reported from the front lines amid the deadly assault on the Capitol. In the weeks that followed, she led the network’s coverage of the historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. She also drew praise for her persistent questioning of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a news conference. In 2023, she was named senior congressional correspondent for ABC News.
Ayanna Howard MS ’94, PhD ’99
is an accomplished roboticist, entrepreneur and educator who became the first woman dean of the Ohio State University College of Engineering in 2021. She previously served as chair of the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing, and founded Zyrobotics, a company that develops mobile therapy and educational products for children with special needs. During her earlier tenure at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Howard played a key role in developing SmartNAV— an autonomous, next-generation Mars rover. In 2022, she was appointed to the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee.
Ethel Percy Andrus MA ’28, PhD ’30
was California’s first female high school principal and a dedicated educator who later founded both the National Retired Teachers Association and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). As president of AARP, Andrus rapidly grew the organization and created programs to support older Americans in many aspects of their lives, including second careers, health insurance and travel access. In recognition of her advocacy, the USC Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center was dedicated in 1973.
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana PhD ’95
is a longtime educator and retired school superintendent who served in the Southern California districts of Pomona, Santa Ana and Inglewood. She also served as the chief executive officer in the Office of Educational Services for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and as the senior education advisor to then Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. From 2009 to 2011, Meléndez de Santa Ana served as assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education for the Obama administration. During her tenure, she developed the Blueprint for Reform and implemented the School Improvement Grants program.
Swoosie Kurtz ’64
is a Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress celebrated for her work on stage, screen and television. Since making her Broadway debut in a 1975 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness, she has won two Tony Awards for roles in Fifth of July and House of Blue Leaves. On television, she starred on NBC’s Sisters and won an Emmy for guest-starring on Carol Burnett’s variety show, Carol & Company. Her other credits include roles in the films Dangerous Liaisons and Reality Bites, as well as in television sitcoms Mike & Molly and Call Me Kat.
Neil Vora ’04
is a physician and epidemiologist who developed and led New York City’s COVID-19 contact tracing program, overseeing a team of over 3,000 people. His program traced more than half a million people who had contracted the virus. Combatting emerging infectious diseases has long been a passion for the former commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, who also worked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He previously assisted in infection control efforts for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Vora is now leading pandemic prevention efforts for the global nonprofit Conservation International.
Louis Zamperini ’40
was a track and field star, nicknamed the “Torrance Tornado,” who competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. He later returned to USC and set a national collegiate mile record that stood for 15 years. While serving in World War II, he was captured by the Japanese and spent two-and-a-half years in a POW camp. Although he endured horrific conditions in the camp and later struggled with alcoholism and depression, Zamperini eventually turned his life around and became an inspirational speaker. His extraordinary story was chronicled in the bestselling book, Unbroken.
Edward Zapanta MD ’63
was a neurosurgeon and a clinical professor of neurological surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He founded and served as chairman of the board and medical director of Universal Medi-Co, Southern California Physicians Medical Group and Zapanta Medical Group. In 1984, he was elected to the USC Board of Trustees and received the USC Alumni Association’s Merit Award; four years later, he was named the Keck School’s Alumnus of the Year. Zapanta was also a founding member of the USC Mexican American Alumni Association (today’s USC Latino Alumni Association).
Dana Walden ’86
is a veteran television executive who was named co-chairman of Disney Entertainment in 2023. In this position, she oversees Disney’s full portfolio of entertainment media, news and content businesses globally, including Disney’s streaming business. She also leads Disney’s content brands and businesses, including ABC Entertainment, ABC News, FX, Hulu Originals and National Geographic Content. Prior to joining Disney, Walden served as CEO of Fox Television Group. She is a member of USC’s President’s Leadership Council and the President’s Circle of the NAACP, as well as the board of the Saban Free Clinic of Los Angeles.
Carlos Noriega ’81
made history in 1997, when he became the first Peruvian-born astronaut to fly into space. He attended USC on a full U.S. Navy ROTC scholarship and received a U.S. Marines Corps commission upon graduation. His record as a Marine Corps pilot led him to NASA’s astronaut program in 1994. Three years later, he made his first flight on the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Mir space station. In 2000, Noriega returned to space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour to deliver and install the first set of solar arrays to the International Space Station.
Edward J. Perkins MPA ’72, DPA ’78
was a career diplomat who served as the first Black U.S. ambassador to South Africa during the final years of apartheid (1986-1989). Although he had a tense relationship with then South African President P.W. Botha, Perkins supported anti-apartheid actions and displayed great moral courage. His leadership helped hasten the independence process for neighboring Namibia and the removal from there of South African troops. Perkins later served as the director of the Foreign Service; as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Security Council.
Tom Morey ’57
was a surfer, musician and inventor best known for creating the ubiquitous Boogie board. Morey’s squat foam board revolutionized the surfing industry in the 1970s, turning the tricky task of wave riding into an accessible sport for the beachgoing masses. Millions of boards based on his original design have been sold, creating one of the world’s most popular watersports and spawning professional competitions. His other inventions ran the gamut from a sailboat with an adjustable mast to a three-player chess game to an improved football.
Centennial Philanthropy Initiative
The 100th anniversary of the USC Alumni Association is an opportunity to reflect on what the University means to you, and a chance to deepen your ties with the Trojan Family. Please make a gift to commemorate this occasion while supporting the next generation of Trojans.
To celebrate the USC Alumni Association’s 100th anniversary, we want to tell the complete story of our Trojan Family – past, present and future – and to do that, we need your help! Upload a photo and let us know what you love about being a USC alum, student, parent or friend of the Trojan Family.