Forum discusses life beyond professional opportunities

USC hosted the annual Veritas Forum discussion on Wednesday night in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Grand Ballroom, “Work Hard, Play Hard, Now What?” that focused on themes of God, success and whether or not the meaning of life extends past just professional accomplishments and social validation.

The forum featured guest speakers Adlai Wertman, a professor of clinical entrepreneurship at the Marshall School of Business, and Charles Lee, Moghadam Family Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The event was moderated by Ange-Marie Hancock, associate professor of political science and gender studies in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

“To me, the reason I could ever call myself accomplished or successful is the impact I have on others. It has nothing to do with my bank account or house,” Wertman said. “The truth, success isn’t a head conversation, it’s a heart conversation and we need to get quiet to figure that one out.”

The Veritas Forum, founded at Harvard University in 1992, is a university event curated by professors and students with the mission of breaking down and exploring difficult questions in life in the context of faith. Last year’s forum discussed race, empathy and faith.

The forum, hosted by student organizations across 200 campuses in the nation, aims to ask “why” questions — questions involving social justice and human rights in conjunction with faith, and open the discussion for students of all backgrounds on campus to engage in dialogue.

Larissa Purnell, president of the Marshall Business Student Government and the Pastoral Council at the USC Caruso Catholic Center, introduced the event in an opening speech.

“I’d also like to dedicate this night in honor of the passing of USC President Emeritus Steven Sample. Through countless initiatives he introduced to our university, such as the Renaissance Scholars program and the Office of Religious Life, his visionary leadership will continue to encourage student to pursue the roots of our sources of knowledge and our sense of truth,” Purnell said.

The final portion of the forum was a Q&A, where the speakers got to answer questions and engage directly with the students and audience members about religion and the meaning of life. The audience had opportunities to ask them a large range of questions regarding business and religion, as well as professional and personal pursuits.

“Being that many USC students are business majors and minors, I think the topic is extremely relevant to the large and diverse student population at USC,” said Brian Chung, religious director of Intervarsity Trojan Christian Fellowship. “I was a USC student before, and now working with many USC students, I realize that we do have a work-hard, play-hard mentality, and I love how the forum is pressing is to think about, is there more to it than that?”

Although Veritas is a Christian organization, the organization’s goal is to extend the conversation to audiences of all backgrounds to come together and participate.

Laura Ziesel, West Coast regional director of the Veritas Forum, highlighted the significance of the Veritas forum to both religious and non-religious students in addition to its importance in light of the recent death of Sample.

“We seek to create a space and invite people who don’t usually come to events that are hosted by Christians. We really want to model for students how to have a conversation with people with different viewpoints,” Ziesel said. “As the campus mourns the legacy of Steven Sample right now, we believe that this is something that honors him and does a good service to his legacy.”

The Veritas Forum at USC “plans, hosts and coordinates conversation events, seminar series, and forums which allow exploration of true life,” according to the official website. This year’s forum was co-sponsored by Marshall’s Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab, MBSG, Intervarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship, El Centro Chicano, CRU, Caruso Catholic Center, Asian Pacific American Student Services, USC Hillel, Intervarsity Trojan Christian Fellowship, LaFe, Christian Challenge, South LA Christian Life and Young Life.