For many Santa Clarita residents, the crisp afternoons of Autumn mean celebrating an institution as synonymous with Southern California as palm trees or movie stars – USC Football.
And as the Trojans took the field against the University of California, Berkeley on Saturday, members of the Santa Clarita chapter of the University of Southern California Alumni Club congregated at Hot Wings Cafe in Valencia to support their alma mater.
While members of the club, mostly alumni and their families, took joy in watching their team take the field, the organization had a deeper goal in mind.
“For the past four or five years we’ve raised funds so that we can offer one or two students in the Santa Clarita Valley who attends USC some scholarship money,” said David Kirschner, Vice President of the Santa Clarita Chapter.
USC is a popular option for many Santa Clarita students; but the cost of attendance, which according the university’s website stands at $72,559 for the 2017-2018 academic year, often precludes students from enrolling.
But Kirschner and other members of the alumni chapter emphasized the school’s generosity with financial aid .
“Tuition is high but USC, at the undergraduate level, has the largest aid budget of any university in the country,” said Kirschner. “USC does a good job of attracting students of low socioeconomic status.”
Ed Cabiko, former treasurer of the club and self-appointed Chief Cheerleader, echoed this sentiment and described the ways in which the alumni organization attempts to mitigate the financial burdens imposed on students by tuition costs.
“We do monthly dinners, a christmas party, day parties, Clipper games and Laker games, all for fundraising for our scholarship fund,” said Cabiko.
Local students who attend the university can begin to apply for these scholarships in February. After screening the applicants and conducting interviews, the club typically awards grants to a few deserving students, Cabkio said.
Saturday’s gathering, which featured a 50-50 raffle, was a chance for the alumni chapter to begin to raise these funds for the coming year.
Hot Wings Cafe, said Kirschner, donated a portion of all proceeds accumulated during the event back to the club. The cafe, with walls adorned in cardinal and gold, offered Trojan themed drinks to bolster these funds.
As of 4 p.m. Saturday USC led Berkeley 30-13; but whatever the final outcome of the game, members of the alumni chapter ensured that Saturday was a win for local USC students.
“USC is Trojan pride.” Kirschner said.
“It’s the school spirit all of us have – even 20, 30, 40 years after graduating.”