University of Southern California

The Action Beneath the Surface
May 11, 2012 • by Michael Shashoua

Today I will walk across a stage, receive my diploma, and become a graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business, Class of 2012. From the audience's perspective, I will have achieved this degree by myself. But as a member of four national championship water polo teams at USC, I know that what you see above the water is only half the story. There's a lot going on below the surface that isn't visible to the referee, some of it good, and some of it not. I am proud to say that during my four years at the Marshall School of Business, everything going on below the surface has been good. The best “under the surface” experience comes from a mentor who made my journey to graduation day an amazing adventure.

As a freshman, I participated in the Global Leadership Program, traveling to Beijing, China. I didn't know it at the time, but the professor running it - Carl Voigt - would be instrumental in my success at Marshall. When I began doing independent research, I approached Carl and asked if he would supervise my project studying microfinance in the Palestinian territories. He enthusiastically agreed, giving me the opportunity to work closely with him.

When I interned in Geneva with a United Nations economist, Carl coached me on how to make the most of that experience. It fueled my passion for international development. This past December he led a student delegation to Cuba. We were the first USC students to travel there in five years. I also spent a semester in Spain studying business, and next year I have the amazing opportunity to conduct research in Madrid as a Fulbright Scholar. Guess who wrote a recommendation for the Fulbright? Carl.

When I walk across the stage to receive my USC diploma, I will know that I didn't do it alone. I had the support of Carl Voigt and all those in Marshall who give students like me these extraordinary experiences. From 7:00 a.m. weekly meetings to student-trips the world over, the professors and administrators here have made a permanent impression on my life. That is what makes Marshall one-of-a-kind. The students aren't swimming alone; we have mentors under the surface who keep us afloat.

I hope you will join me in supporting the USC Marshall School of Business and congratulating this year's senior class. With your help, we can all be part of the championship team called Marshall.

Fight On!
Michael Shashoua, Class of 2012