2017 Student Success Stories

Maddi Sampson

Maddi Sampson '17

Madeleine “Maddi” Sampson  is the kind of millennial that puts the minds of more mature adults to rest. She’s articulate, well-dressed, friendly, calm, and genuine. The message she sends without trying is: Don’t worry. I’ve got this.

And how.

She maintained a 4.0 GPA while minoring in mathematical finance and getting involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities, including Marshall Business Student Government and Alpha Phi. And as if that weren’t time-consuming enough, Sampson took on leadership roles with the USC Equestrian Team, helping it win regional championships all four years.

Her efforts were recognized and rewarded on Commencement Day. As a proud recipient of the Emma Josephine Bradley Bovard Award, Sampson represents Marshall as one of the top 10 women graduating from USC. At the Marshall undergraduate Ceremony May 12, she was presented with the Delta Sigma Pi scholarship key by Marshall Dean James G. Ellis, honoring her for being the business student with the highest GPA.  For her exemplary dedication to leadership and community service, she will also graduate with the Order of the Torch.

Maintaining Links

Marshall’s Global Leadership Program made a big impact and launched other opportunities. That year-long course, which brings together the top incoming freshmen to study international business, took her to Shanghai, where she landed a summer internship. The following year, she mentored five GLP students. “I maintained connections with my fellow GLP students,” Sampson said. “That camaraderie was really meaningful.”

One of the most important things she learned at Marshall, Sampson said, was how to work as a team and communicate with people with different points of view through group projects and case studies. “Team projects can be challenging, but the fact that we had that experience to work out those issues and conflicts with our classmates before we come across them in the real world is very valuable.”

After graduation, Sampson will start as a commercial real estate analyst at AIG in its Global Real Estate group, a role for which her education and four internships have prepared her well. “I want to be in a job where I am going to learn a ton, so that knowledge will set me up for the future. I want to travel and work in different cities, but eventually I’d like to end up back home, in West Vancouver, British Columbia.”



Andrew Nahill

Andrew Nahill '17

The first thing you should know about Andrew Nahill is that there are three of him. Well, kind of.

“We’re all pretty different,” he says of his fraternal twin brothers Bobby and Anthony. The one at Annenberg (Bobby) wants to be an actor, while the brother at University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Anthony), studied sports management and will be working for major league soccer upon graduation.

Andrew? He’s all business, as well as a scholar with a natural inclination toward public service and leadership.

On Commencement Day he received another distinction: He became one of the very rare breed of Trojan undergraduates to receive the Order of the Laurel and the Palm for distinguished leadership, scholarship and service on and off campus.

Of his four years at Marshall, Nahill is most proud of his accomplishments with the Trojan Consulting Group. “It was an incredible opportunity to be asked to advise Teach for America on how to effectively revamp their recruitment process,” Nahill said. His team provided recommendations that were implemented by the national education nonprofit nationwide.

Nahill, who minored in sociology, has also made an impact as a volunteer with Jumpstart, where he worked with preschool kids in low-income communities to improve their language and literacy skills.

Team Up

A member of the Mortar Board honor society and Society 53, the governing board of the Student Alumni Society, Nahill is a Global Scholar, having traveled to Hungary, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic through various USC programs. He also served as President of the Trojan Business Alliance.

The most important thing he learned at Marshall, he said, is that teamwork is key. “Business is a team sport, and the success of an organization is largely driven by its employees and culture,” he said.

And as a triplet, Nahill knows from teamwork.  After he and brother Bobby walk in their respective ceremonies here at USC, they will hop on a red-eye back to Boston to meet their parents. “We’ll hopefully make it just in time to see our third brother graduate from Amherst,” he laughs.

After that, the whole family will enjoy vacation time together before Nahill starts his job as a consultant at Simon-Kucher & Partners in Boston and the others leave for their next chapters.

But for four years, USC felt like home.

“Coming from the tiny town of Cohasset, Los Angeles and USC felt like unfamiliar worlds at first, but the students and faculty at Marshall made me feel at home in no time,” he said. “I quickly found some of my closest friends and mentors at Marshall, who have profoundly impacted me as a Trojan.”



Amy Chau

Amy Chau '17

At USC Marshall, Amy Chau learned a good deal of hard-edged business fundamentals—and also discovered her passion for helping others.

“Through the various leadership positions I’ve held and classes I’ve taken, I’ve learned that by speaking up, I can provide a voice to those who have none, fight for those who are unable to fight for themselves, and empower others to contribute valuable perspectives,” she said.

That spiritedness also informed her next move: Law school. After a short, post-graduation break, Chau, a San Diego native, will pack her bags and head east to join Georgetown Law’s class of 2020 as a Business Law and Opportunity Scholar in Washington, D.C.  (She may also need to buy her first-ever pair of snow boots…)

The Leading Lady

Her undergraduate Marshall resume is heavy with service projects and team leadership. From her service as events coordinator and external community chair with the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly to her work as a PEER Mentor for the Asian Pacific American Student Services, Chau aimed to make an impact at USC. “I hope that I’ve inspired others to give back in the same way that my mentors and upperclassmen inspired me to do so.”

Her leadership skills have not gone unrecognized: USC Marshall Dean James G. Ellis awarded her with the Order of Troy and the Dittrick Leadership Award at the Marshall Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony May 12.

Chau, an Asian Pacific Alumni Association Scholar and Marshall Honors Scholar, participated in Marshall’s elite Global Leadership Program for top incoming freshmen. She earned the distinctions of Discovery Scholar, Global Scholar and Renaissance Scholar for excelling academically in two disparate fields (business major and law and society minor).

Expressing gratitude for the dedication and support of the faculty and staff, the valuable mentorship she received from alumni through the Career Advantage Program, and the internships and job opportunities she has had as a result of the Trojan Network, Chau said, “Perhaps the greatest part of this experience is knowing that, as I look toward the future, I will continue to have the Marshall family behind me, long after I receive my diploma.”



Solomon Abdella

Solomon Abdella '17

At the 2017 Rose Bowl game in his hometown of Pasadena, Solomon Abdella realized he would forever remember “all the ups and downs of the game and the beautiful victory at the end, surrounded by Trojans.”

“In that moment, I realized what it meant to be a Trojan,” he said.

For Abdella, that victory was all the more meaningful. As a transfer student from Pasadena City College in 2010, his was a temporary victory. Just one semester in financial and other issues forced him to put his dreams of a USC degree on hold. It would take him five years before he ventured back into the classroom.

“Initially I was discouraged,” he said. “But ultimately, I couldn’t let that hinder me from exploring and trying to better myself.”

Abdella threw himself into work; retail banking, sales, and e-commerce. He wanted to learn as much about business as he could from outside the classroom, in preparation for his eventual return. He even developed the idea for a startup: a compact, multifunctional desk to accommodate people living in small spaces.

When he returned to USC in 2015, he was ready to take on the world. He double majored in business and accounting. He also took courses in Marshall’s entrepreneurship program, where he found inspiration and guidance, not to mention pitch competitions. His idea won $1,000 at the “1,000 Pitches” competition held by SparkSC.

He took part in case competitions as well, including the National Diversity Case Competition at Indiana University (with faculty adviser Debra Langford) and CBS Case Competition in Copenhagen with the Marshall Case Team. He has served in leadership roles in the Accounting Society and given back to the community through USC Troy Camp, where the kids he mentors “are always a bright spot in the week.”

After interning with Deloitte this summer, Abdella will graduate in December. He plans to travel and study for the CPA before starting his career in consulting. He is also excited about pursuing ideas for a fashion service app and a snack company. 

“What I’ve learned from my journey is that we all face challenges that have the potential to deter us from achieving our goals,” he said. “However, if we embrace those challenges and take daily steps toward self-development, we will be better prepared individuals.”



Maariyah Patel

Maariyah Patel '17

Maariyah Patel has big dreams. “I want to be the CEO of a hospital and start a nonprofit to provide educational and professional opportunities to young women in Pakistan,” she said. She tapped into USC Marshall to help her get there.

Starting her college career as a pre-med neuroscience major with a minor in public health, Patel decided to add a second minor in business. “I wanted to start my own clinic, so having a background in business would be helpful.” As she took more Marshall classes, she realized she enjoyed studying business and opted to double major.

“I merged my passions for healthcare and finance through my studies and, eventually, my career,” said Patel, a Fullerton, Calif., native who will join J.P. Morgan in New York City as a healthcare investment banking analyst.

Patel distinguished herself at USC. She is among the less than 1 percent of USC undergraduates who will receive the Order of the Laurel and the Palm for distinguished leadership, scholarship and service on and off campus. And by combining disparate areas of study, she has earned the additional honor of being named a Renaissance Scholar.

As a member of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), she helped in the effort to extend the drop deadline and pass/no pass deadline from week three to week seven. She considers this to be her proudest accomplishment at USC. “It has been really rewarding to see the positive and tangible impact my work has made on USC students,” said Patel, who served as director of academic affairs for USG.

Another highlight of her Marshall experience was serving as a peer career advisor for investment banking. Patel was also involved with the Trojan Scholars Society, serving as the executive board co-chair for two years and the director of service and philanthropy before that.

“Marshall taught me the importance of creating and maintaining meaningful relationships with my peers, professors, mentors and the Trojan Family,” Patel said.


Negin Golrezaei Ph.D. '17

Never underestimate the power of sibling rivalry. One of the newest scholars to come out of USC Marshall’s Data Sciences and Operations Dept., Negin Golrezaei Ph.D. ’17, cites it as an early reason she did so well in math as a child.

“I was passionate for math and numbers even when I was very young,” she says. Proud aunties reminded her that at the age of three she could count to 1,000.

Growing up in Tehran, her older sister attended the top technical school. “I forced my parents to let me go to school early so I can keep up with my sister,” says Golrezaei. “Along the way I realized that I could keep up, and in fact, that I am enjoying math.”

She went on to earn her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the Sharif University of Technology in Iran, where for her undergraduate work she ranked first in cumulative GPA. In 2011 she was offered the Provost’s Ph.D. Fellowship to USC's Viterbi School of Engineering.

Given its worldwide reputation, Golrezaei arrived eagerly at Viterbi. There she studied mechanism design, machine learning and optimization algorithms. But she increasingly grew interested in the practical applications of her research.

“I attended a workshop by Amazon, and I hadn't realized people in business were doing this technical stuff," she says. "I realized there is a need for new research in the areas I’ve been studying. It was fascinating to me!” After a year and a half at Viterbi, she applied to USC Marshall's Dept. of Data Sciences and Operations, and found her home.

Not surprisingly, given her deep technical expertise, she has interned with Google—twice—and will be finishing up a project for the company by way of a one-year post-doc. "I designed a new model for online auctions in display advertising," she explains, simplifying it for a non-technical inquirer.

By the Numbers

Golrezaei officially earned her doctorate in a hooding ceremony held Thursday, May 11. As with her undergraduate record, she was an academic standout at USC Marshall.

For her remarkable academic achievements, including two journal papers, she was honored with the 2017 USC Ph.D. Achievement Award, a distinction given to only six doctoral candidates campus-wide.

She also received the CAMS prize for excellence in research with a substantial mathematical component. That little girl who could count to 1,000 at 3-years-old? She is still very, very good with numbers.

Dr. Golrezaei will be an assistant professor of operations management at the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2018 (after her one-year post-doc at Google Inc. in New York City.) Her husband, Sajjad Beygi, also a new Ph.D. in engineering from Viterbi, will join her.