Lifestyle Philanthropy

USC spirit alive and well in San Diego through Trojan League

Although more than two hours from San Diego, the University of Southern California boasts a large contingent of passionate supporters known as the Trojan League Associates of San Diego County. The league was founded in 1969 exclusively by women associated with USC, at a time when many universities were not even accepting women yet. Originally the group had 57 charter members. Today, there are 143 members. You must be 30 or older to join. Three quarters of its members are USC alumni; the other quarter is comprised of spouses and parents of alumni. Trojan League Associates of San Diego County is one of seven Trojan Leagues throughout Southern California.

The league serves several functions in San Diego. Members have served on a variety of advisory committees that shape campus policies, including the Schools of Dance, Theater, Social Work, the Marshall School of Business, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Doheny Memorial Library, and others. Some members are former USC trustees and past presidents of the USC Alumni Association.

Rancho Santa Fe resident Kathy Stumm has been a member since 1988 and has held many offices through the years, including a two-year term as president. “I came from a very active Trojan family,” she explains. “My grandfather, father, and mother all attended USC. Often we attended football games as a family. When it came time to go to college, there was really no decision to be made – I wanted to be a Trojan, too!”

Stumm started at USC in 1970 and joined a sorority and played on the tennis team. She graduated with a BA in social science and physical education and a California Secondary Teaching Credential, and became a school teacher in Los Angeles and San Diego.

And she’s kept the family tradition going. “Two of my three sons graduated from USC,” she says. “Rick graduated from the Marshall School with an emphasis in finance and real estate development. Greg’s degree was from the Annenberg School, where his emphasis was broadcast journalism.”

The league tries not to let geography get in the way of staying connected to the university itself. USC professors visit San Diego regularly to give presentations on a variety of topics. Most recently, a student-affairs assistant provost spoke about student homeless and substance abuse on campus. Another recent topic was a collaborative effort between the Viterbi School of Engineering and seven other schools to address refugee camp issues. The league also hosts receptions for newly admitted and current USC students, and luncheons for local high school counselors and principals to meet and learn about the USC application and admissions process.

One of the most important endeavors of the league is to provide scholarships to San Diego-based USC students in need, in coordination with USC’s matching award program. The league’s president, Kristen Smith, recalls a recent scholarship recipient. “The funds were awarded to a woman serving in the Navy enrolled in USC’s MSW program specializing in mental health services. While she was in Afghanistan, she became intimately aware of drug abuse and related disorders among those in her unit. She’s since devoted her naval career to help active duty and veterans in this area.”

Jason Phillips
Scholarship recipient Jason Phillips. Courtesy of Trojan League Associates of San Diego

To date, more than 300 students have received Trojan League scholarships including Jason Phillips, a 2018 USC grad. “As a triplet, my parents were tasked with a tough hand when it came to the three of us going to college at the same time. However, with this scholarship, it helped to at least lessen the load a little bit and allowed me to give back to my parents for the incredible gift of education that they have given me. It reminded me that the Trojan family is here to help one another and through our alumni we can support the each other.” Jason studied film production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and hopes to produce and direct feature films in the future.

This year, the Trojan League is sponsoring its first-ever gala called Trojans in the Paddock to mark its 50th anniversary and boost fundraising for more scholarship dollars. The event takes place Saturday, March 2, at 4 p.m. at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It features a concert by the USC Marching Band and the USC Song Girls and Silks. USC football coach John Robinson will be Master of Ceremonies for the evening. It includes dinner and dancing with a special appearance by USC mascot, Traveler. Ticket are $150. For tickets, go to trojanleaguesandiego.com.

Trojan League
Trojan League of San Diego inaugural meeting, 1969. Courtesy of Trojan League Associates of San Diego
Marching Band
The USC Marching Band will perform a first-ever concert at the Trojans in the Paddock event slated for Del Mar Racetrack on March 2. Brett Padelford
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