At Commencement in May, two Trojan families will make history

Christie Bertch is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and sociology with a minor in business law. She will graduate in May.

So will her father, Dr. Steven Bertch, who will graduate with an executive master of business administration from the Marshall School of Business on the same day. He also graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1984.

All in the family · (from left) Steven, Michael, Kathleen and Christie Bertch are all affiliated with USC, either as students, entering students or university employees. - Photo courtesy of the Bertch family

But the family connection doesn’t end there.

Steven’s wife, Kathleen, also graduated from the dental program in 1983. She completed her undergraduate studies at USC, and she’s now a dental hygienist at the USC Oral Health Center.

And to top it off, their son, Michael, is headed to USC in the fall.

With two graduating, one soon to be enrolled and another working at USC, the Bertch family’s tight Trojan bond is unique.

“Even the trustees and admissions people haven’t heard of anything like this,” Steven said.

Steven and Kathleen met at USC in a parking lot during the 1984 Olympics. Within six months, they were engaged, and within another year, they were married. Three years later, their first child, Christie, was born.

“I’ve been a Trojan since I can remember,” Christie said. “Everyone jokes I was here before I was born.”

Christie and her brother have been surrounded by the Trojan lifestyle their entire lives.

Michael said his USC experience really started when he was six and came to his first USC football game against Oregon State in 1997.

“Ever since then, I’ve been to nearly every home game — win or lose, rain or shine,” Michael said. “It is now 2010, and I’m looking forward to continuing the tradition as a student.”

Christie said having her whole family at USC has turned what would be an individual experience into a more meaningful family affair.

“It’s been a dream for me to be able to share my passion for USC with my family,” Christie said.

“We’re all so passionate about USC,” Kathleen said. “There is something to be said about the Trojan Family and Trojan Family traditions. There’s nothing like the USC experience.”

Christie said it was exactly this sentiment that made her want to follow in her parents’ footsteps and attend USC.

“You just feel passionate about what USC means around the world and what it means in Los Angeles,” she said. “I felt an immediate connection, and that’s really what made me want to come here.”

Both Christie and Michael said they never really considered going anywhere else for college — neither did their father when he decided to pursue a business education to fulfill his dream of being an entrepreneur

“I want to have an effect in the industry and make a difference,” he said. “Our country needs innovation.”

Steven noted that he never expected his return to USC to include his entire family.

“Never in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought we’d all be here like this,” Steven said.

Steven said he was amazed by the odds of his and his daughter’s graduating from the same school in the same year. Christie, however, said that with her family’s tight bond, it almost made sense.

“We’ve always been a close family,” Christie said.

Her father agreed.

“Their whole lives, we’ve been away from them 10 days total,” Steven said. “It’s natural that we’re sharing the school like this.”

Still, the Bertches said that although they’re close, being busy keeps them from being together constantly.

“I work eight hours a day,” Kathleen said. “Christie comes to me when she needs something. We’re all so busy in our own little worlds of what we do day to day. When time allows, we meet up, but we all have our own lives.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Steven Bertch graduated from USC’s dental hygiene program. Bertch actually graduated USC with a Doctor of Dental Surgery.

2 replies
  1. USC Athletic supporter
    USC Athletic supporter says:

    I shared a class with Christie and she always seemed happy and so full of school spirit that I expected her to bust out some School cheers at any moment; now I know why. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she was baptized in the Queens Court Fountain, or has a tattoo Ol’ George Tirebitter on her lower back. She is THAT hardcore.

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