Latino Alumni AssociationHistory



Eight USC Mexican American alumni—along with Raúl Vargas, then executive director of USC’s Mexican American Programs—set out to create an association dedicated to supporting the advancement of Latinos in higher education, assisting Latino students with the high cost of college, and increasing the number of Latino students attending USC. The USC Mexican American Alumni Association (MAAA) is born, and Mr. Vargas becomes the founding executive director.

Zapanta brothers


Matching Program

USC shows its support for the MAAA by establishing a 2:1 matching program for undergraduate scholarship funds raised by the association.


First Scholarship Dinner

The MAAA holds its first scholarship dinner, which soon becomes the association’s premier annual event. Gala Committee members included Art Alarcon, Ignacio Galindo, Joe Maldonado, Arnold Martinez, Phil Montes, Al Zapanta, Dr. Ed Zapanta, Dr. Richard Zapanta and Raul Vargas.


First Golf Tournament

The MAAA holds its first golf tournament to provide fun, networking and fundraising for scholarships.


Founder Joins USC Board of Trustees

One of the MAAA’s founders, Edward Zapanta MD ’63, becomes the first Latino member of the USC Board of Trustees.

MAAA Board in 1984
Presidents of the MAAA Board (L-R: Al Zapanta, Ignacio Galindo, George Pla, Al Perez, Steve Moya, Oscar Parra with Raul Vargas)


$1 Million Campaign

The MAAA becomes the first Latino alumni association in the nation to launch a campaign to raise $1 million in endowment.


First Graduate Scholarships

The MAAA grants its first graduate student scholarships.


Endowment Milestone

With the help of alumni and community businesses, the MAAA establishes an endowment to provide a permanent source of scholarship funds for USC’s Latino students. A million dollars is raised by 1995, and the endowment is worth five times that amount by 2012.


25th Anniversary

The MAAA holds its 25th anniversary scholarship dinner and establishes a board of directors.


25th Scholarship Golf Classic

The MAAA holds its 25th Scholarship Golf Classic.


New Executive Director

Raúl Vargas retires from the university, and Domenika Lynch ’97 is named the MAAA’s executive director.


Legacy Alumni Award

The MAAA creates the Legacy Alumni Award and establishes a corporate advisory council.


Major Gifts

The new Ronald Tutor Student Center’s Presentation Room is funded by MAAA members and staff with a $200,000 gift, and the Frank Cruz family names the center’s Frank Cruz Family Room with a $100,000 contribution.



The MAAA moves to the new Ronald Tutor Student Center. George ’74 and Gail Pla ’75 pledge $300,000 to name the association’s new suite in the Tutor Center.



To better reflect the broad reach of the association, the organization’s name is changed to the USC Latino Alumni Association (LAA). The new name includes the tagline, A legacy of the USC Mexican American Alumni Association since 1973, to commemorate our founders and history.


40-year Anniversary

The LAA celebrates 40 years of dedicated service to underrepresented, first-generation, low-income Latino students. One of the largest, most dynamic Latino alumni associations in the United States, LAA has awarded nearly $15 million in scholarships to more than 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students at USC. In addition, our mission has expanded to provide leadership development and mentoring opportunities, to ensure that our students are among the most competitive college graduates in the country.



The LAA embarks on a $3 million campaign initiative to generate crucial resources for student scholarships and programmatic support.


New Executive Director

Domenika Lynch ’97, MFTH ’15 leaves the LAA, and Mercy Willard is named executive director. The LAA reaches its $3 million campaign goal almost a year ahead of schedule.