May 2017 (3) Candygrams

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Thursday, May 11, 2017---USC Student-Athlete Graduation Celebration Part 1

My husband Jim and I waited for an hour outside the south entrance of the Galen Center for the doors to open for the 2017 USC Student-Athlete Graduation Celebration. My sister Patti and brother-in-law Dudley Poon waited in line at the north entrance.

Florence, Chimezie, and James Metu
Trojan Candy saw a familiar face coming out of the Galen Center. Chimezie Metu (8/28/2015) and his parents Florence and James posed for me.
Patti and Dudley entered first and saved seats for us. Thanks, Patti!
Zenon Babraj
After putting my bags on my aisle seat, Trojan Candy walked outside looking for friends. Immediately, I spotted Women of Troy Rowing Coach Zenon Babraj. It was so nice to see him again.
Clay Helton
Then riding up in a cart, Coach Clay Helton stepped out and smiled at me. He knew that I wanted to take his picture.
Kristen Simon, Dani Milisic, and a friend
Two Women of Troy Basketball players were excited to be at the ceremony. Kristen Simon, Dani Milisic (3/25/2016), and a friend.
Jordan Austin and Malik Dorton
Standing behind me were two football friends. Naturally, I took a picture of Jordan Austin and Malik Dorton.
Chris Zambri and Justin Silverstein
Men's Golf Head Coach Chris Zambri and Assistant Coach Justin Silverstein stayed to talk for a while.

Trojan Candy decided to walk back into the Galen Center because the Celebration was about to begin.

Rory Hughes and Anna Collier
Just as I walked into the arena, I saw Rory Hughes (Sara's dad) and Beach Volleyball Head Coach Anna Collier talking to one another. They smiled for this picture.
Terese Cannon, Anna Collier, and Paige Hines
Then, Terese Cannon (3/3/2016), the USC Beach Volleyball player who scored the winning point to win the NCAA Championship on May 14th and friend Paige Hines (1/31/2014) posed with Coach Collier.
Now, it was time for the student-athlete procession to start. Trojan Candy got back to my seat as soon as I could. This is my video of the procession.

After all the student athletes were seated in the front, USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann welcomed everyone. President C.L. Max Nikias spoke next. Dr. Nikias said that the "Ideal" of USC athletes is to "Achieve a sound mind in a sound body." He told them that, "You have achieved two amazing victories at USC. You have earned a degree, and you have represented the greatest heritage in athletics." Dr. Nikias's final words were, "Live well and wisely during the marathon's life of adventure. You are a Trojan for life!"

Sara HughesAfter the Legend of Troy Award was given to the Mary and Al Centofante Family, Lynn Swann introduced two Senior Speakers who addressed the audience and fellow Graduates. Friend, Women of Troy Beach Volleyball Champion and three year Captain, Sara Hughes (1/31/2014) spoke first. Sara said, "We embody the Trojan Tradition. We built belief in ourselves and in our teammates. A wise coach told me, '...that in any situation you are in, always keep Fighting On!'" She stated, "Champions overcome adversity. We represent USC to the best of our ability. It is our time to show the world who we are. This is not the end. It is simply the beginning." What words of wisdom from a true Champion! FIGHT ON, Sara! [Photo courtesy of Pierson Clair of PC4Photo.]

The second Graduate to speak was NCAA Champion and Olympic Medalist Andre De Grasse. Andre thanked everyone at USC who helped him along the way. He said, "Medals can tarnish and records get broken every day, but a university degree is something nobody can take away from you." He thanked USC for " me my skills, experiences and confidence I need to be a professional athlete." Andre ended with this advice: "Every journey walked together will not be the same no matter how similar. Every journey walked together will not be alone. We all have each other and in common, we all have had trials and tribulation here at USC and in our personnel lives and in the public. We must remember from this moment forward, no matter the way, how large or how small, adjust your sail. In other words, Fight On!" More words of advice from another true Champion! FIGHT ON, Andre!

Now it was time for the Presentation of Graduates. Each Head Coach introduced the Graduate in his/her sport.


Jordan McLaughlin
Jordan McLaughlin (5/26/2015), Sociology


Sadie Edwards
Sadie Edwards (3/25/2016), Social Sciences (Psychology)
Courtney Jaco
Courtney Jaco (3/24/2017), Master of Communication Management
Kristen Simon
Kristen Simon, Social Sciences (Psychology)


Sophie Bukovec
Sophie Bukovec (3/5/2015), Sociology
Kelly Claes
Kelly Claes (3/2/2017), Sociology
Sara Hughes
Sara Hughes (1/31/2014), Business Administration
Nicolette Martin
Nicolette Martin (3/5/2015), Fine Arts
Allie Wheeler
Allie Wheeler (3/5/2015), International Relations


Jordan Austin
Jordan Austin, International Relations
Kenny Bigelow
Kenny Bigelow, Sociology
Victor Blackwell
Victor Blackwell (9/8/2011), Communication
Jackson Boyer
Jackson Boyer, Social Sciences (Economics)
Kevin Carrasco
Kevin Carrasco, Political Science
Justin Davis
Justin Davis (12/14/2016), Social Sciences (Economics)
Malik Dorton
Malik Dorton, Communication
Nico Falah
Nico Falah, Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Change
Joel Foy
Joel Foy, Communication
Jalen Greene
Jalen Greene, Communication
De'Quan Hampton
De'Quan Hampton, Sociology
Deion Hart
Deion Hart, Communication
Matt Lopes
Matt Lopes, Business Administration
William S. Poole
William S. Poole, Political Science
Quinton Powell
Quinton Powell, Sociology
Khaliel Rodgers
Khaliel Rodgers (12/13/2015), Sociology
Darreus Rogers
Darreus Rogers (8/19/2016), Communication
Taylor Ross
Taylor Ross, Business Administration
Zach Smith
Zach Smith, Policy, Planning, and Development
Milo Stewart
Milo Stewart, Human Biology
James Toland IV
James Toland IV, Social Sciences (Psychology)
Isaac Whitney
Isaac Whitney (2/4/2015), Sociology


Tiffany Chan
Tiffany Chan, Communication
Karen Chung
Karen Chung, Communication
Gabriella Then
Gabriella Then, Communication


Rob Bellamy
Rob Bellamy (4/15/2017), Planning, Policy and Development
Nick Crystal
Nick Crystal (3/31/2017), Political Science
David Laser
David Laser (4/15/2017), Sociology


Andre DeGrasse
Andre DeGrasse, Sociology
Felicia Horvath
Felicia Horvath (4/1/2016), Psychology


Andy Benesh
Andy Benesh (5/14/2016), Communication
Vinnie Rios
Vinnie Rios (5/14/2016), Master of Global Medicine
Lucas Yoder
Lucas Yoder (5/14/2016), Policy, Planning and Development

Sorry to Vinnie Rios and Lucas Yoder. Unfortunately, your pictures were blurry. However, please look for yourselves in my next "Reception" blog. Your pictures are sharp there.


Alice Pizzasegola
Alice Pizzasegola (1/8/2017), International Relations
Elise Ruddins
Elise Ruddins (1/8/2017), Communication
Taylor Whittingham
Taylor Whittingham (1/8/2017), Communication

Several friends won Senior Awards:

Isaac Whitney

Courtney Jaco

GIMBEL AWARD (Most Cooperative)
Darreus Rogers
Courtney Jaco
Jordan McLaughlin

TROJANEER DIAMOND AWARD: (Brought the most fame and distinction to USC)
Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes;
Andre De Grasse

Congratulations and FIGHT ON to Courtney, Jordan, Sara, Kelly and Andre!

After the Senior Awards were announced, the Spirit of Troy came on stage to play our Alma Mater and "Conquest." Then, all of the Student Athletes marched outside to the Galen Center steps for their group picture. The group picture and the "Reception" will be in my next blog.

Congratulations to all of the Class of 2017 USC Student-Athlete Graduates!