The USC Schwarzenegger Institute unveiled Wednesday evening a new program called the “Be the Change” to recognize USC students working for change on campus. The award will be given to students each month.
Students can submit nominations online for peers who they believe are inspiring leaders. Winners receive a $250 gift certificate to the USC Bookstore, a certificate of recognition and VIP seating to the “Be the Change” Supper Speaker Series. Nominators are also awarded with Supper Speaker Series tickets.
The announcement was made at a Council of Presidents dinner in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, with about 70 student leaders attendence.
The Council of Presidents, which is hosted annually by the Undergraduate Student Government, informed student leaders about the new award and gave an attendees the opportunity to network.
The Undergraduate Student Government Director of Communications Kelly Hann helped organize the event, to which much of her department’s budget goes. Fittingly, Hann considers it one of their most important events.
The student organization presidents were contacted using lists from Student Affairs and USG Campus Affairs.
“So there’s Greek presidents and there’s philanthropy presidents, and there’s ethnicity or minority group presidents,” Hann said.
There were approximately 200 event attendees. A few of the groups represented were the Helenes, the co-ed fraternity for leaders Delta Omicron Zeta, the hip-hop dance team Chaotic 3 and the USC Pakistani Students Association.
Leaders were also able to interact and network with each other, and USG strategically placed students at tables with organizations with which they might be able to work in the future.
“I think it’s a great way to get different student organizations working together, mingling, maybe we can talk about different problems that we’re having,” said Helenes President Chelsey Christensen.
The event also hosted speakers from the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Bonnie Reiss, the global director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, spoke to students about the new award.
“This award recognizes that many USC students, like many of you here tonight, [who] are already committed to civic engagement,” Reiss said. “The [Be the Change] Spotlight Award is an opportunity for people at USC to nominate a USC student who is an inspiring example of the power one person can have to make a difference.”
USC Alumni Association President Mitchell Lew gave the keynote speech of the night. Lew, who met his wife in Doheny Memorial Library while attending USC, emphasized how much USC has influenced his life, and is now part of students’ destinies.
“You had choices. You had choices and you could’ve gone somewhere else, but you’re here at USC. It is your destiny to be at USC … and especially to be part of the Trojan Family,” Lew said.
Lew also stressed the university’s role as a source of leaders and gave advice to the leaders in the room.
“You want to be leader and you want to do leader,” Lew said. “You represent an organization, but to do leader is to do the things that true leaders do, and that’s being special, building and raising the profile of your organization, motivating and inspiring other students.”