The college admissions process is a stressful one, but it becomes more complicated for children of military families.
For the past five years, USC’s Pre-College Summer Scholarship for Military High School Students has helped these students get a headstart in their academic careers.
Angie Riveria, a rising high school senior from Winchester, Calif. and current student in the program, said her Marine father convinced her to sign up.
“I wanted to have the college experience — to be able to visit USC and solidify what I want for my life,” Riveria said.
The program allows 30 high school students with parents in the military to receive a full scholarship to attend a four week summer program in areas such as architecture, business and entrepreneurship, engineering, global studies, journalism, pre-health and science, pre-law, performing arts and writing and critical thinking.
Riveria hopes to pursue a career in international relations — in the summer program, students examine war complexities and beginnings. Her program uses reenactments of international issues and case studies to teach negotiation exercises and find ways to peacefully solve problems.
Riveria said one of the most memorable aspects of the program was her trip to the Museum of Tolerance, which focuses on prejudice, racism and genocides.
“I want to learn more about politics and the world,” Riveria said. “It’s been really good so far.”
Audrey Daly, a recent USC graduate, returned to the program as a residential assistant. Before being admitted to USC, she participated in the summer program’s musical theater track and took classes at the School of Dramatic Arts.
“I can attribute my acceptance into the theater program [at USC] to the military program,” Daly said. “I already knew the professors auditioning me, and they knew my body of work.”
Daly said the program allowed her to develop her passions and become a stronger version of herself. Upon entering the University, she delved deeper into music, joining the a cappella group USC Sirens in large part due to her involvement in the program, she said.
“I’ve matured in so many ways,” Daly said. “I’ve become much more independent with much more drive … [USC] made me become a better leader and responsible adult.”
Daly said she was grateful to the program for introducing her to her peers, with whom she has since formed long-lasting relationships.
“The other unintended joy was how much I loved my colleagues … because I have found a ragtag team of wonderful people who are so supportive,” Daly said. “[There’s] this whole community of people that I would never have met if not for this program.”
Christine Lord, an RA who was also a participant in the program, said she hopes current students in the program are able to discover and cultivate their passions just as she did.
“Being an RA who was a part of the program help[s] me connect with the students better,” said Lord, a senior majoring in sociology. “I was able to help them with the USC admissions process, homework [and other concerns.]”
Vice Provost for Academic Operations Mark Todd said he hopes to ensure college accessibility for children of the military through the program.
“USC has a long-standing history of supporting U.S. service members, veterans and their families,” Todd said. “The Provost’s Pre-College Scholarship provides an opportunity for high school-aged children of veterans and active duty-service women and men to see that first-rate higher-education institutions like USC are a real possibility.”