Sevlian named inaugural recipient of the new USC Africa Student Fund

Silva Sevlian (pictured on right, far left), a senior pursuing a joint B.A./M.A. degree in print journalism and public diplomacy, was named one of three inaugural recipients of the new USC Africa Student Fund, which she will use to pursue independent research projects this year on the African continent.

Sevlian will be studying the Armenian Ethiopian community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, focusing on the role of Christianity as a tool for public diplomacy between Armenia and Ethiopia. During her 16-day trip, she will conduct interviews with members of the Armenian Ethiopian community while taking video and audio footage and photographs to document the shrinking population. Upon her return to the United States, she will create a Web site documenting the research.

Of the 19 applications the selection committee received, the three selected stood apart from the rest because of the unusual areas of research they proposed, said Adam Clayton Powell III, USC’s vice provost for globalization.

“They’re studying things that weren’t expected,” Powell said. “And through the applications we received, we found areas of research around USC that we in the provost’s office had not known before.”

Per terms of the grants, the students will present their findings to the university community this fall.

The Africa Student Fund was established last year in response to the growing student and faculty interest in Africa. More than 200 people attended a networking and informational event hosted jointly by the Office of Globalization and University Relations to gauge USC’s presence in Africa in late 2007, demonstrating a vast university-wide interest.

“There is far more going on [regarding] Africa at USC than we previously knew,” said Powell, who, along with his wife, Irene Solet, gave a $100,000 gift to help establish the fund last year.

The other recipients are Daniel Alvarado, a senior art history major and Emily Taymor, a freshman film production major and health promotion minor.

For more information, or to make a donation to the fund, please visit this site.