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BSEL Undergraduate Social Impact Scholars Program

Social Impact Scholars Program

BSEL's Social Impact Scholars Program is a highly selective nine-month mentoring and skills-building experience for a group of rising juniors and seniors who are engaged and pursuing careers in social impact.
 

Eligibility
Rising juniors and seniors from all majors are encouraged to apply. Students applying for the AY23 Scholars cohort must be enrolled at USC for the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters.

We seek students who:

  • Think broadly about the "wicked problems" facing the world, and see themselves as agents of change in responding to these problems.
  • Engage with their communities in meaningful ways.
  • Enjoy learning from other people, especially those who have different life experiences.
  • Pursue opportunities for self-reflection and growth.

Note: As this is a highly experiential program, students must commit to attending all cohort meetings, which will be held on Friday mornings, approximately once a month. The cohort meeting schedule will be finalized in the summer.
 

Benefits

  • Mentorship from leading social impact professionals and social entrepreneurs. (A list of past mentors can be found here.)
  • Professional and personal development workshops to foster competence and leadership skills relevant to social impact careers.
  • An invitation to a formal meal with all mentors and mentees.
  • At least two one-on-one meetings with a mentor.
  • A career shadowing experience with a mentor.
  • Access to the BSEL student and professional network and advising from BSEL staff.
  • Membership in a cohort of like-minded students offering feedback and support.
     

Commitment

  • Participate in a day-long orientation in August. (Orientation is typically held the Sunday before the start of the fall semester.)
  • Attend a group dinner with mentors in early September (date to be given at orientation).
  • Engage fully in monthly cohort meetings and BSEL events (approximately five to six hours per month). 
  • Schedule and attend meetings with mentors.
  • Attend an end-of-the-year event (usually held the last week in April or first week of May).
  • Serve as official ambassadors of BSEL within and outside of the USC community. This means identifying publicly as a BSEL Scholar and prioritizing attendance at other BSEL opportunities, including Jacobson Sustainable Impact Lectures, site visits and networking events.
     

Information Session

Check back in late 2022.


Application Process
Applications for the 2022–2023 academic year is closed!

To apply, students must submit an online form that includes their resume and answers to three (3) short-answer questions:
1. What area(s) of social impact are you most passionate about? (300 words)
2. What steps have you taken to address this issue? (300 words)
3. Where does your commitment to impact come from? In other words, tell us about what influence or experience has inspired you to make impact. (300 words)


Application Deadline
The application for the 2022 Social Impact Scholars in now closed.  Learn more about this cohort and check back in late 2022 for more information on our next application cycle.  

 

For questions and additional information, contact Marelle Berry, BSEL Senior Student Engagement Programs Advisor.
 

2022–2023 BSEL Scholars

Below is the current cohort of BSEL Scholars. For the full list of previous Scholars, please click here.

Russell Agustin

Russell Agustin

Russell Agustin is currently a junior from Union City, California, studying Public Policy and minoring in Social Entrepreneurship. Russell's involvements include operating a 501(c)3 nonprofit called Sole2Soul for over 5 years, spearheading a global Ashoka - based civic innovation project called Tilt, engaging with student governance as a student senator, and furthering environmental advocacy as a podcast researcher for a student podcast called Eco Alarm. In Russell's free time, he enjoys going to the gym, playing video games, practicing his improv skills, and trying new foods.

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Casey Duan

Casey Duan

Casey Duan is a senior studying neuroscience through Dornsife and entrepreneurship through Marshall. She is interested in addressing health disparities through a multidisciplinary approach.

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Paul (PJ) Hughes

Paul (PJ) Hughes

Pj Hughes is a rising senior at USC studying Economics, pursing his master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship, and minoring in Psychology and Environmental Studies. He is proud to be the co-executive director of USC Troy Camp as well as a member of the climbing team, surf team, and SCOutfitters, an outdoor adventure organization. Pj is from Orlando, Florida, and he is excited to one day work in environmental education.

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Lauren Hurlbut

Lauren Hurlbut

Lauren Hurlbut is a current junior at the USC's Annenberg School of Journalism where she is majoring in Public Relations as well as pursuing a Political Science degree at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences with an emphasis in human rights law. During her time at USC, Lauren has participated in the Dornsife Political Science Fellows program, learning from the Los Angeles Dodger's Foundation CEO on how to communicate effectively in times of crisis. She is also a current member of the UCLA Law Fellows program and hopes to continue this experience into law school. Lauren currently interns with The Advance Group to assist in communications and political consulting efforts where she specifically focuses on underrepresented communities and voters' rights. She also works with the Annenberg Agency and the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Los Angeles.

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Katherine Owojori

Katherine Owojori

Katherine Owojori, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, is currently a senior majoring in political science with a minor in business law. Katherine is a pre-law student and an advocate with USC Dornsife’s Agents of Change: Civil Rights Advocacy Initiative, as well as an active member of Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles’ policy team. After graduation, Katherine hopes to earn a J.D. and become a practicing attorney and work to reform civil rights laws in California.

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Kaavya Rajesh

Kaavya Rajesh

Kaavya Rajesh is a rising senior double majoring in Economics and Global Studies with a focus on South Asia, gender, and social change. She is passionate about improving access to and the quality of education and hopes to pursue this through policy or social impact consulting roles. She is also interested in how mass media such as film and TV can influence mindsets.

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Irene Franco Rubio

Irene Franco Rubio

Irene Franco Rubio is a devoted social justice activist, writer and grassroots community organizer born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. As a fierce catalyst for change, she has devoted her efforts to advocating for BIPOC communities through intersectional movement building, digital community organizing and writing to uplift diverse voices. Irene is a young woman of color of Guatemalan and Mexican descent committed to various movements for justice as a writer, media professional, strategist and change-maker.

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Isha Sanghvi

Isha Sanghvi

Isha Sanghvi is a senior studying neuroscience and social entrepreneurship from Fremont, California. In addition to serving as the VP of Projects at LACI, USC’s student-run, social impact consulting organization, Isha also conducts research regarding neural injury at the Dickman Lab. Optimistic about achieving health equity through innovation, she co-founded Remedy, a startup focused on preventing medication theft for unhoused patients.

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Leila Sapra

Leila Sapra

Leila Sapra is a sophomore from Dana Point, California majoring in Political Economy with a minor in News and Information Innovation on the Pre-Law track. She has dedicated herself to social justice, and has worked tirelessly towards creating social and therapeutic programing for adults within the special needs community. On campus, Leila serves as the Communications Director for the Economics Association, a member of Phi Alpha Delta, and a student journalist for Annenberg Media. In her free time, Leila enjoys traveling, practicing yoga, and watching movies.

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Amelie Schlager

Amelie Schlager

Amelie Schlager is a senior majoring in international relations global business and minoring in social entrepreneurship who is passionate about photography, music, and piloting. She hopes to explore the intersection between business and social good in an effort to combat the sexual violence epidemic. Her ultimate goal is to effect widespread social change in order to create a more compassionate and just society.

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Layla Shakerin

Layla Shakerin

Layla Shakerin is a senior studying Neuroscience, minoring in Education and Society, and pursuing her Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship in USC’s PDP program. Her interest lies in using human-centered design methods to create sustainable social change, particularly in regards to educational inequality. On campus, Layla is an active counselor and co-chair of the Advocacy and Inclusion Committee for Troy Camp, as well as a trip guide for SCO Outfitters.

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Alexandra Zarchy

Alexandra Zarchy

Alex Zarchy is a rising senior at the University of Southern California studying Public Relations with a minor in Social Work and Juvenile Justice; and is looking forward to completing her Masters of Science in Social Entrepreneurship. Alex is passionate about combining all sectors (public, private, and non-profit) in being agents to facilitate real social impact, and is excited for her time with the BSEL Scholar Program to further continue and discuss that idea. She is particularly interested in issues regarding the intersection between art and activism, and the juvenile justice system.

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2022-2023 Senior Fellows

For the full list of Senior Fellows, click here.

Serita Cox

Serita Cox

CEO/Co-Founder of iFoster

Serita Cox is the CEO and Co-Founder of iFoster. As the driving force behind iFoster, Serita brings to bear her personal experience with foster care, devoted commitment to a number of youth development initiatives, and over a decade of experience in executive-level management in Silicon Valley, corporate strategy consulting and non-profit strategy consulting. Despite all this corporateness, she is also the person “most likely to be hugged” by a client. For her work with iFoster, Serita has been recognized as a White House Office of Social Innovation Citizen Innovator, an Echoing Green Fellow, and an American Leader of Change.

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Zoila D. Escobar

Zoila D. Escobar

President, AltaMed Foundation

Zoila D. Escobar is President of the AltaMed Foundation and Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer of AltaMed Health Services, she is dedicated to leveling disparities in health care by combining her own personal insight into the Latino experience with comprehensive care. For more than 40 years, she’s played an instrumental role in community health leadership, spearheading everything from grassroots initiatives to leading major policy changes at national institutions. At AltaMed, Ms. Escobar oversees development, corporate communications, branding, strategy planning and execution, facilities development and maintenance, culture and linguistics equity, human resources, government relations and civic engagement. In this multifaceted, 360° role, she shapes nearly every dimension of the AltaMed experience, ranging from where people get care, to innovative programs and services for patients, to ensuring that everyone whom AltaMed serves receives patient-centered care in a way that honors their cultural preferences. Empowerment is one of the pillars of the AltaMed mission, and it’s also the focus of Ms. Escobar’s other professional engagements and memberships. Ms. Escobar actively participates on multiple boards: University of La Verne board of trustees, the California Health Care Foundation board, the American Nurses Foundation, and L.A. Chamber Board of Governors. Ms. Escobar has a Master’s Degree and a Doctorate from the University of La Verne, where her research focused on barriers to Latino students entering medical school. She and her husband have five children and enjoy their free time with their five grandchildren.

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Ameca Reali

Ameca Reali

Membership Director, Law for Black Lives

Ameca Reali is a dedicated and entrepreneurial advocate for freedom and justice who is deeply inspired by the philosophies of women like Ella Baker and bell hooks. Ameca has been working with people in Louisiana to create sustainable, thriving communities that are safe for everyone for over 10 years. For three years she served as the New Orleans Programs Officer and then Director of Economic Justice Programs at the Foundation for Louisiana. There she oversaw the creation of a funding strategy for statewide grant-making and programs with a focus on criminal justice reform, housing, public health, arts and culture. Her work included supporting the development and incubation of numerous coalitions advocating for a vision of safety that goes beyond policing, jails, and punitive systems. In 2011, Ameca was awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship for her work as the Ameca co-founder and Executive Director of Justice and Accountability Center in . JAC developed a mobile expungement clinic model to address and eliminate some of the collateral consequences of arrest and conviction for thousands of people across Louisiana. Currently, Ameca serves as the Membership Director at Law for Black Lives, a Black femme-led national network of over 6,000 radical lawyers and legal workers committed to transforming the law and building the power of organizing to defend, protect and advance Black Liberation across the globe. Ameca graduated with honors from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2006 where she earned a B.A. in Communication. She earned a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2011. In her free time Ameca loves to create costumes, craft, cook and go on long walks with her two dogs Prince and Rufus.

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Danielle Rose

Danielle Rose

Chief Executive Officer, SMASH

Danielle Rose is the Chief Executive Officer at SMASH, a national STEM justice education nonprofit headquartered in Oakland, CA. After spending nearly two decades pursuing her education and early professional career in Georgia, Texas, and Illinois, Danielle's return to her native Bay Area community in 2013, was more than welcomed. While much has changed since she last lived in Oakland, her love and appreciation for the cultural and social justice fabric that clothes “The Town” remains untouched. As an experienced operations and education leader, Danielle joined SMASH (formerly Level Playing Field Institute) in 2015 with the aim of leveraging her skills within an organization positioned to sustainably improve the educational experience of our nation’s underserved youth of color. Prior to joining SMASH, Danielle built and managed the operations for Redbird Advanced Learning, an EdTech startup recently acquired by McGraw-Hill. Her transition into education was preceded by eight years in the energy sector, where Danielle held a diverse set of engineering and business roles for BP America, Inc. in Houston and Chicago. Danielle holds a B.S. from Spelman College in Mathematics and a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Staying true to her diverse Bay Area roots, Danielle enjoys traveling conscientiously around the world, staying active and exploring the great outdoors with her dog, Blu.

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Ben Stapleton

Ben Stapleton

Executive Director, U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles

Ben Stapleton is a recognized sustainability leader who brings a creative mind and consultative approach to a wide range of projects with a focus on building teams and designing programs to deliver impactful results. His current work is based on coordinating an ecosystem leveraging the built environment as the entry point and connective fabric to help create a more sustainable society for all as Executive Director for the U.S. Green Building Council - Los Angeles. Previously, he launched and then managed the La Kretz Innovation Campus in Downtown LA while leading operations, finance, and major program initiatives for the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI). He is a recipient of JLL's distinctive Da Vinci Award for Innovation, the Los Angeles Business Council's Community Impact Award, Stratiscope's Impact Maker to Watch Award, and CoStar’s Power Broker designation in the Los Angeles market. Representing competing schools in Los Angeles, Stapleton holds a MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business as well as a Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics from UCLA. Ben is a LEED AP O+M, ENV SP, and WELL AP certified green building nerd driven by a connection to nature while being inspired by the people around him.

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Nichol Whiteman

Nichol Whiteman

Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation

Nichol Whiteman serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF). Under Nichol’s leadership, LADF tackles the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness and social justice. During Nichol’s tenure, LADF rebranded its signature initiative and is now the Dodgers Dreamteam, a program that grew from 2,700 participants in 2014 to 12,000 today. The Spelman alumna cultivates partnerships resulting in more than $32 million in community investment in programs and grants, impacting over 2.3 million children. With a mighty team that shares her commitment to advocacy, Whiteman aims to deepen the impact of LADF programs and enhance the Foundation’s visibility and philanthropic influence across Los Angeles. A product of Nichol’s vision, the Dodgers is the proud owner of an ESPY--having been named the 2020 ESPN Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year. She led LADF in receiving the 2020 Beyond Sport Award for Reducing Racial Inequalities and has been featured in outlets including Forbes Magazine, NBC’s CA Live, and the LA Times to name a few. Appointed to the State of California’s Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, Nichol extends her impact statewide as she fights for the opportunities that all communities deserve. Believing that everyone can positively impact a life, Nichol's journey continues to be full of inspiration as she fights for young people to realize their dreams. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband Timothy and two sons, Timothy Jr. and Nicholas.

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