University of Southern California

Stephanie Atiase
Utilizing Business for Social Change
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Native Texan Stephanie Atiase chose USC because of the family atmosphere she perceived. "I felt immediately this was a place where you could grow, where you could learn, where you could meet people who truly cared about your potential," she recalls. "USC Marshall seemed like a place I could call home."

An accounting and business law major, she will begin her career at Ernst and Young doing business-risk consulting in Los Angeles -- but her heart and long-term interests lie in social enterprise work. "That's what I'm really passionate about," she says. "I think business is a great tool to help others." Ms. Atiase plans on earning her CPA and working at Ernst and Young. Ultimately, she plans to run her own nonprofit, most likely educating young people about business. "I love the idea of service leadership and I think everybody should take some time out to serve others."

For her own part, she co-founded two service programs while a USC Marshall undergraduate. She organized community service day-- which since has evolved into Marshall Outreach and Volunteer Entrepreneurs -- that took 160 Marshall students as well as faculty, staff and corporate representatives throughout Los Angeles to build a playground in Watts, plant trees in Koreatown, construct a home with Habitat for Humanity, and teach fourth-graders business skills through the Young Business Scholars program, among other activities. Through the other program she helped create, the Writing Our Dreams Program, USC Marshall students were among those who mentored ninth-graders from a nearby, predominantly minority charter school, teaching them to use their imaginations to visualize solutions to social issues.

The Writing Our Dreams Program grew out of the Art and Adventure of Leadership course, taught by USC President Steven B. Sample and Professor Warren Bennis, which Ms. Atiase calls her favorite class at Marshall. "It totally has changed my life, my perspective on how to lead, what I need to do to move on, and more importantly what my strengths are and where I can utilize these strengths to serve others. It definitely was a great capstone for my college career."