President C. L. Max Nikias announced this month that USC will be providing scholarships for high school students whose parents have served or are currently serving in the military.
The scholarship will allow children of military families to attend a summer session at USC. The announcement was made on March 13 at a conference in D.C.
Mark Todd, associate provost of Academic Affairs who oversees the Office of Continuing Education and Summer Programs, explained that the scholarship will offer classes over a wide variety of subjects.
“With the scholarship, the children will be able to take one of the 21 classes offered by Summer@USC program, a program directed towards high school students,” Todd said. “Students that win the scholarship will then be able to take a class in a subject like architecture, engineering, pre-law, business, global studies, journalism, writing, critical thinking or the performing arts.”
Todd noted that in order to be eligible, students must be the son or daughter of a current or former U.S. military service member and be in either 10th, 11th or 12th grade.
USC will cover the costs of tuition, flights, room, board and lab costs for scholarship winners who will have the opportunity to see what their freshmen year might be like. The announcement was made at a conference in D.C. on March 14, where President Nikias and other university administrators met with key legislators.
The initiative is a continuation of a relationship USC has maintained with the military beginning in 1914. Since 1940, the university has partnered with ROTC and has offered two master’s degrees related to the military: a master’s in social work with a concentration in military service and a master of business for veterans.
The School of Social Work has also created the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, where researchers study topics such as how different educational settings affect the children of military servicemen. It also helps integrate military families into civilian life.
Todd said the university has been hoping to provide scholarships to military families for quite some time.
“President Nikias has always wanted to provide assistance to active military, veterans, their spouses and families. Therefore, in order to help, Provost Elizabeth Garrett created this scholarship,” Todd said.
Many people are pleased with the scholarship as it can relieve families from financial stress as well as help them to better adjust to civilian life.
Tyler Driskill, a USC alumnus and the son of a U.S. Air Force Commandant, spoke about the financial difficulties many enlisted officers face.
“They have a huge financial burden with life in general,” Driskill said. “Many of them have a family member that works day and night to pay off debts. They are extraordinary individuals, and to have scholarships for their children, it would help them out significantly.”
Brian Lim, a sophomore in USC ROTC, also discussed the sacrifices military families make.
“In the case of military children, they leave their friends, schools and homes every few years when they have to move to a new duty station,” Lim said. “This scholarship provides these children with an opportunity they would otherwise not have.”
Arie Bogard, a sophomore at George Mason University and the son of a Foreign Officer in the Army, said the scholarship creates one less thing for military families to worry about.
“This scholarship also provides families that are overseas with comfort knowing that their children are safe and that they don’t have to budget in order to pay for expensive housing,” Bogard said.
Mireille Olivo, a sophomore at American University and the daughter of an Officer Colonel, noted this summer opportunity could motivate students to attend university.
“Allowing children to attend amazing institutions like USC would give them the motivation and skills to get into great college,” Olivo said. “They often miss out on their parents’ guidance while applying to universities since they are away.”
Ron Avi Astor, a professor in the School of Social Work and the Rossier School of Education, hopes that in the future USC will extend its efforts beyond children in their K-12 years and lead the effort in its inclusion of military families at the university level.
“Our partnerships in elementary, middle and high schools already work on helping military families provide the support veterans and their families need when they adjust to civilian life,” Astor said. “Perhaps other universities will emulate this USC initiative so that they can help children of the warriors that serve our country.”
Astor also mentioned that the announced summer scholarship will be the perfect environment for military children.
“What USC is doing is great since the friendly military environment it fosters will make these high school students feel welcomed,” Astor said. “USC is a place that is warm and welcoming. These talented and experienced students from military families with great leadership skills need places where they belong, and in my opinion USC will be the best place.”