Illustration by Suz Boretz

USC Annenberg graduates receive top university and school honors

Continuing the tradition of honoring graduating students from disciplines across the university, USC’s annual Student Recognition Awards ceremony was held via Zoom on May 13. Outstanding members of USC Annenberg’s Class of 2021 were recognized with these top honors, showcasing their stellar academic achievements as well as their meaningful contributions that have significantly enriched the university and the wider community.

Student Recognition Awards

The Order of the Laurel and the Palm

Exemplary leadership and high achievement characterize those selected for the Order of the Laurel and the Palm, the highest honor accorded to undergraduates completing their program of study. Recipients display significant leadership that touches multiple facets of university life and have made notable contributions that leave a lasting impact on the university community and the world at large through their commitment to service and value of the university’s highest goals and ideals. Less than one percent of undergraduates earning their degrees are selected as members of the Order of the Laurel and the Palm.

  • Kate Sequeira (BA, journalism)
  • Jessica Zellmer (BA, public relations)

The Order of Troy

Recipients of the Order of Troy have distinguished themselves beyond their peers in at least one facet of university life and have made notable contributions to the university community as active leaders or critical contributors in service to peers, the university community or the world at large. These students have pursued academic excellence while devoting extensive time and energy in service outside the classroom.  

  • Lindsey Byster (BA, journalism)
  • Harmon Gill (BA, communication)
  • Benjamen Gould (BA, communication)
  • Anushka Joshi (BA, communication)
  • Raymond John Rapada (BA, journalism)
  • Isabel Torres (BA, journalism)
  • Nicolette Walker (BA, journalism)
  • Amy Hua Ting Wang (BA, public relations)

The Order of Arête

Arête, taken from the Greek, means virtue or excellence in attaining one’s utmost human potential. Members of the Order of Arête have distinguished themselves above their peers through campus or community leadership roles beyond those required for their programs of study, often making notable contributions to the university, academic discipline, community or world at large. In these leadership roles, members demonstrate significant depth and scope of responsibility, and they are recognized for upholding value and meaning over individual achievement. The award represents the highest honor accorded graduate students upon completion of their academic programs.

  • Brandee Beiriger (MCG, communication management) 
  • Fatime Uruci (MPD, public diplomacy)
  • Brenda Vega (BA, journalism and MS, digital social media)

Academic Honors

USC Provost’s Award

The USC Provost’s Award is granted to graduating seniors who have attained the highest scholarship average of all undergraduate transfer students at the University. The recipients have attained a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

  • Alexis Amaradio (BA, public relations)
  • Kyle Mark Popok, (BA, communication)

Renaissance Scholars

USC Renaissance Scholars are students who graduate in two or more widely separated fields of study with both a major and a minor, or two baccalaureate degrees. Renaissance Scholars must meet requirements for superior academic performance, including no less than a 3.5 overall grade point average, and no less than a 3.5 grade point average in their respective programs of study.  

  • Leeanna Albanese (majors: journalism and theatre (acting))
  • Lindsey Byster (majors: journalism, and cinema and media studies)
  • Carrie Cao (major: public relations; minors: photography and comparative literature)
  • Vivian Chen (major: communication; minor: business finance)
  • Erin Ewalt (major: communication; minors: linguistics, and organizational leadership and management)
  • Diana Fonte (major: public relations; minors: consumer behavior and French)
  • Harmon Gill (major: communication; minor: religion)
  • Connie Guo (majors: public relations, and law, history and culture)
  • Sophia Hausch (major: journalism; minor: communication design)
  • Melanie Jiang (major: communication; minor: applied analytics)
  • Sophia Lechner (major: public relations; minor: international relations and Italian)
  • Jenell Louissaint (majors: communication, and cinema and media studies)
  • Ashley Lyu (major: public relations; minors: applied analytics and communication design)
  • Lisabelle Panossian (majors: public relations, and philosophy, politics and law)
  • Britta Purcell (majors: communication and French)
  • Eliana Rosenthal (major: communication; minor: Spanish)
  • Benjamin Shiff (majors: communication, and cinema and media studies)
  • Weijia Sun (majors: communication and architecture)
  • Maya Tribbitt (major: journalism; minor: French)
  • Emily Um (major: communication; minor: cinematic arts)
  • Tiffany Wong (major: journalism, and East Asian languages and cultures)

Discovery Scholars

USC Discovery Scholars are students who have produced exceptional original scholarship or creative work at USC while compiling a distinguished overall academic record, including no less than a 3.5 overall grade point average. 

  • Erica Hur (BA, communication)
  • Benjamen Gould (BA, communication)

Global Scholars

The Global Scholars program recognizes undergraduates who have excelled in their studies both at home and abroad, spending at least 10 weeks outside the U.S. as part of their undergraduate experience, and achieving no less than a 3.5 overall grade point average. 

  • Jacqueline Yining Andrews (BA, communication)

Communication Department Honors

  • Marion Boyd
  • Jessica Faltinsky
  • Amelia Fong
  • Erica Hur
  • Mara Lorin
  • Carson Marsh
  • Alexandra Rodman
  • Kristal Silva

Journalism Department Honors

  • Robert Aronson
  • Samuel Arslanian
  • Chandler France
  • James Hofeling
  • Kate Lý Johnston
  • Natalie Oganesyan
  • Fiona Pestana
  • Samuel Schwartz
  • Luke Scorziell
  • Isabel Torres
  • Nisha Venkat
  • Siqi “Karen” Wang

Public Relations Department Honors

  • Alexis Amaradio
  • Katie Borquez
  • Jazlyn Burgos
  • Brandon Kaufman
  • Ashley Lyu
  • Gabriella MacAdam
  • Autria Mashian
  • Noah Ng
  • Lisabelle Panossian
  • Ellie Schneider
  • Yamileth Urias
  • Virgil Sum

External Academic Honors

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students.

  • Tiffany Wong (BA, journalism), Graduate degree grant, Taiwan

School of Journalism Awards

In addition, USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism announced the following recipients of their annual awards for graduating students. 

  • Natalie Oganesyan (BA) and Fiona Pestana (BA), Outstanding Journalism Scholar Award 
  • Jonathan Horwitz and Anthony Quach, Outstanding MS in Journalism Scholar Award 
  • Lauren Teruya (MA) and Devarrick Turner (MA), Outstanding Specialized Journalism Scholar Award 
  • Polina Cherezova (MA) and Anthony “Ajay” Orona (MA), Outstanding Specialized Journalism (The Arts) Scholar Award 
  • Lisabelle Panossian (BA) and Ellie Schneider (BA), Outstanding Public Relations Scholar Award 
  • Claudia Chow (MA) and Holly Palmer (MA), Outstanding Strategic Public Relations Scholar Award 
  • Alexis Amaradio (BA, public relations), Nisha Venkat (BA, journalism),  Issac Allen (MS, journalism) and Melody Waintal (MA, specialized journalism (the arts)), Director's Award for Excellence
  • Melvin Dilanchian (MA, strategic public relations), Center for Public Relations Research Award
  • Caroline Wohl (MA, public relations and advertising), Norman Corwin Award for Service and Scholarship: 
  • Frank Rojas (MS, journalism) and Phil Rosen (MS, journalism), Penny Lernoux Award for International Reporting Award
  • Siqi "Karen" Wang (BA, journalism), Jack Langguth First Amendment Award
  • Phil Rosen (MS, journalism), Bryce Nelson Award for Distinguished Journalism