Unruh scholarship will honor former USC provost

This semester, the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics will be awarding the first-ever Elizabeth Garrett Award, which will grant funding for an internship to an exemplary female student at USC who excels in academics, public service and leadership.

The Unruh Institute is dedicated to bringing together the academic and practical world of politics through courses in applied politics, speaker series and an extensive political internship program. The Elizabeth Garrett scholarship is the newest award that has been established this year in memory of the late Elizabeth Garrett, former provost of USC and president of Cornell University who died in March from complications of colon cancer.

Dan Schnur, the director of the Unruh Institute, worked with Garrett closely for several years while she served as the provost of USC. They served together on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, she guest-lectured during many of his classes, and Schnur and Garrett worked together to develop the Institute’s scholarship program.

“When Beth passed, everyone at the Unruh institute agreed that something should be done to honor her memory,” Schnur said.

Garrett promoted the institute’s cause by truly bridging the gap between the classroom and the real world of politics, Schnur said. Her academic writings influenced political reform and she continuously applied her academic brilliance to challenges that existed in an off-campus, politically charged environment.

“I had the privilege of knowing Beth Garrett and calling her a friend,” Schnur said. “We want to make sure future generations of USC students can learn from her extraordinary excellence in leadership, academics and public service.”

For the past several years, the Unruh Institute has awarded an increasing amount of money to students who wish to pursue civic-minded internships that might not offer competitive levels of pay.

To encourage these students to pursue the internships of their choice, the Unruh Institute provides internship scholarships which can help a student pay for housing, travel or other related expenses.

The institute has also made a conscious effort in recent years to enable the participation of students from diverse backgrounds in all internships.

When Schnur first came to USC, he noticed that there was a two-tier hierarchy for summer internships in higher education throughout the nation.

Students who came from families who could comfortably pay for tuition had the opportunity to intern at places like the White House, Congress or the United Nations.

Students who struggled financially, however, often had to accept internships with local city offices so they could save money to help pay for tuition. Under Schnur’s leadership, the institute worked to create the internship scholarship program to make sure all students could participate in any internship of their choosing.

“This past year, we were able to award over $100,000 of scholarship money to students for the first time, and considering our annual award amount has been growing steadily for the past many years, I expect we’ll be able to award even more next year,” Schnur said.

Scholarship opportunities are available for students pursuing civic-minded internships in a wide variety of ways including political campaigns, advocacy work, local, state or federal government offices, political journalism and more.