USC’s military, veteran and ROTC community celebrated at annual gala

University leaders and guest speakers honored military and veteran students and faculty at the 2020 USC Veterans and ROTC Gala.

March 09, 2020 Ron Mackovich-Rodriguez

Joining a tradition that stretches back a decade, President Carol L. Folt honored members of USC’s military, veteran and ROTC community during an evening of remembrance and celebration.

The 2020 USC Veterans and ROTC Gala drew hundreds of military and veteran students, faculty and family members, along with ROTC members, at the downtown Los Angeles Westin Bonaventure on Thursday night.

This year’s gala was the first of Folt’s tenure. Its rituals ranged from the somber to the amusing, as MIAs were honored in the same evening as the lighthearted “tasting of the beef” protocol, in which the outcome is predetermined (despite whatever the sampler tastes, the dinner’s main course is deemed fit to consume).

Honoring USC’s military, veteran students as members of the Trojan Family

“It’s our greatest hope to make sure that our active duty service members, veterans and ROTC students thrive and feel at home as USC scholars,” Folt said. “We want them to feel, at all times, that they are with their family.”

USC is recognized as one of the top highly selective research universities for veteran and military students, thanks in part to the generosity of USC’s participation in Yellow Ribbon funding for student veterans.

As Folt pointed out, a symbol of the university’s close connection to military and veteran students and their dependents is USC’s Veterans Association. It was launched in 2008 and serves about 1,200 undergraduate and graduate student veterans and their dependents.

“You reflect our nation at its best,” Folt said. “You have protected Americans for generations, and we’re so grateful to you.”

USC’s ROTC tradition

In April, USC will celebrate the university’s 80th anniversary with the Navy ROTC.

USC has over 220 ROTC students, 62 of whom are women and 92 of whom are first-generation college students. USC’s partnership with the ROTC has lasted more than a century without a break, even during the tumultuous years of the Vietnam War when some universities severed ties.

“Your service sets a high standard and earns you a special place in the Trojan Family,” Folt said. “We thank you for all you’ve sacrificed in your deep service to our nation.”

An exceptional guest inspires the military community

brigadier general roberta shea
Brig. Gen. Roberta L. Shea delivers the keynote address. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

Brig. Gen. Roberta L. Shea delivered the keynote address. Trained as a ground support equipment mechanic, she served with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina.

“When a chance encounter with a Marine recruiter led to them asking me, ‘Are you ready to be a Marine?’ I said yes,” Shea said. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me. When I showed up at boot camp, it was like coming home.”