USC’s Standout Students

May 3, 2013


On May 17, nearly 13,000 Trojans will receive degrees from USC. Below are a few of the exceptional students that will be graduating.

Opening doors for deaf students around the world

Manako Yabe, USC School of Social Work

Major: Masters in Social Work

Trojans have Manako Yabe to thank for captioning on 2013’s Commencement Jumbotrons. As a deaf international student,  Yabe is sensitive to the importance of access. She brought the need for captioning to the attention of Commencement organizers after last year’s ceremony, where she noticed deaf, elderly and international attendees had no way of understanding what was being said on surrounding Jumbotrons. She’s dedicated herself to bringing the deaf and hearing communities closer together. She is herself an example of USC’s exceptional diversity: a Japanese student who speaks five languages, has studied in the U.K., and hopes to become an international social worker advocating on behalf of deaf students.

Giving back to the Latino community

David Hernandez, USC Dornsife College

Major: B.A.s in Political Science and American Studies and Ethnicity

“I came to this university with nothing, and it has given me everything,” says Hernandez, an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico and the first in his family to go to college. Hernandez was appointed this year as a United Nations delegate, serving on the Commission for Social Development Focusing on Unemployment and Poverty. In 2011, he was named one of the White House’s “Champions of Change,” and has worked tirelessly for the embetterment of South Los Angeles residents. He will work in L.A. with Teach for America after graduating, and hopes to one day serve the city as an elected official.

Read more about David here.

Finding success in the deep end

Samantha de Leve, USC Annenberg School

Major: Masters in Arts Journalism

A degenerative muscular disease has gradually worn away Samantha de Leve’s ability to walk without pain – but she’s found freedom in the water. Since she started swimming in USC’s pool about a year ago, she’s come close to breaking some school records and is training for the Paralympics.

Watch a video about Samantha here.

Entrepreneurship for Women

Christina Marshall, Masters in Business Administration

USC Marshall School

Christina Marshall has learned a lot in her MBA program – including how to launch her own clothing line for plus-sized women. Her business plan won the Entrepreneurial Ventures Competition organized by Harvard’s African American Student Union, and she was instrumental in helping Marshall MBA teams secure the first title for the Wake Forest Case 23rd Annual Marketing Summit Competition (and she took home the individual summit MVP prize), first place in the National Black MBA Association competition and first place in the 2013 Macy’s MBA Challenge. Christina was one of three women at Marshall selected as C200 Scholars.

Music Students on the Move

This year will mark the first ceremony for students in the USC Thornton School’s Popular Music Program. They got the chance to show off during a recent concert at legendary West Hollywood venue the Troubadour. Students in the program are currently performing alongside well-known acts like Maroon 5 and can be heard on the soundtrack to “The Hunger Games.” One student’s band received a Latin Grammy nomination.

Read more about the program here.

Online Students Celebrate Face-to-Face

For 47 USC Annenberg students, commencement will be the second time ever they’ve met in person. They’ll be on campus for the online Communication Management program’s first commencement ceremony – a first for any of the school’s online degrees. The master’s candidates hail from Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon and Alabama, as well as California. One graduate, 39-year-old Mike Nicholson, completed the program while serving as an Army public affairs officer in Afghanistan. Nicholson said he discovered the structure and rigor of a military career served him well as he pushed himself to meet the demands of working a full-time deployment while simultaneously earning a master’s degree. “There was no room for procrastination whatsoever,”  Nicholson said.

Contact: Andrew Good at gooda@usc.eduor 213-740-8606