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Giving Before They Go

If you could give back one more time before graduating USC Marshall, what would you do? Gavin Doyle BCA '20 had a good idea. 

May 12, 2020
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Gavin Doyle BCA ’20 knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up long before he even got to high school. 

Growing up just outside San Francisco, his family would travel south to Disneyland at least once a year.  But while most kids might be content to own some Disney merch or play some Disney games online, Doyle combined his interest in Disney and passion for business and launched a website—DisneyDose.com—devoted to all things Disney. He was 13. 

He later wrote a best-selling book, “Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details,” and launched another website, MickeyVisit.com.

Entrepreneurial. Business-minded. “I knew from early on that I wanted to come to USC,” he said.  The school offered so much of what he was passionate about—including the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the famed School of Cinematic Arts.  “I wanted to touch both those schools, but I also knew that business fundamentals drove the whole show,” he said.  

Nine student orgs, including the Marshall Entertainment Association, donated their surplus cash after having to abruptly go online-only midway through the spring semester. They presented nearly $10,000 to Homeboy Industries, to help fund their efforts against food insecurity caused by the pandemic shut-down. 

So, when he was admitted to Marshall and learned about Marshall’s Business of Cinematic Arts program, it was almost kismet. 

The Business of Cinematic Arts (BCA) program is a unique and competitive program that unites Marshall with SCA to provide classes on the business of entertainment. It is only offered to first-year freshmen, and offers classes open only to them. In training the next generation of entertainment business executives, it is known for its aggressive networking opportunities. 

Not surprisingly, Doyle leveraged his four years at USC within the BCA program, including working on an entertainment news show in the Annenberg Media Center, working for Central Communications as a social media intern, and being active in the Marshall Entertainment Association, finishing out his senior year as president of the student org. 

Gavin Doyle (BCA '20) with Father Boyle
Gavin Doyle BCA '20 with Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries

In this role, he helped organize trips, speakers and networking opportunities for his 250-plus members. Before the lockdown, members of the group had gone to Universal Studios to have lunch with members of its global brand team and went behind the scenes at the Disney Channel. 

“The goal of the club is to put our members together to learn what it’s like to work on the business side of entertainment,” he said. 

But with the sudden move online, he realized he would close out the semester with a financial surplus. 

Returning the money didn’t feel right to him. He knew there were many people suffering with job loss and food insecurity during the pandemic. “I felt we had already brought good value to our membership,” he said. “And my great co-president Nikki Lebedin agreed.”

They would donate the surplus to good cause. Doyle knew just who to call. 

LA-based Homeboy Industries was launched in 1988 by Father Greg Boyle, then the new parishioner in gang-riddled East LA. It was founded on the idea of giving people a second chance, through job training, education, addiction help and other services.  What began as a way of improving the lives of former gang members in East LA has today become a blueprint for more than 400 organizations around the world, from Alabama to Idaho, from Guatemala to Scotland. 

Doyle had first heard about the organization while in high school at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, and had visited the organization during his initial USC tour. He first supported Homeboy Industries his sophomore year while leading external affairs for the Interfraternity Council.

“We knew that we could help support their food component, and get relief out to the members of the community who really need it the most,” he said. 

And because it’s his nature to think bigger, Doyle got online and contacted a number of other USC student orgs. Before long, he had rallied the leadership of more than nine other clubs, agreeing to send their surplus funds to Homeboy Industries. These clubs include The Consulting Club, LavaLab, USC Interfraternity Council, Trojan Real Estate Association, Sports Business Association, Marshall Real Estate Finance Association, Trojan Consulting Group, Marshall Women’s Leadership Board, and Black Business Student Association.

Together, the groups raised nearly $10,000 to donate to Homeboy Industries.

"Gavin has always been a generous supporter of Homeboy,” said Father Boyle. “We greatly appreciate his leadership at USC and help spreading our efforts. He truly embodies the Jesuit idea of being a man or woman with and for others."

With his final classes now behind him, one might expect Doyle to move into a role at Disney. Not yet, he said. He’ll be joining the consulting group OnPrem, which serves many of the most prominent studios and tech players in entertainment.

He is particularly grateful for the relationships he has built with faculty at USC. He thanks professors Julia Plotts, Gene Del Vecchio, and Bob Shrum. “These professors forever changed the way I think about finance, media and entertainment, and politics respectively,” he said. Doyle also cited Annenberg Dean Willow Bay, former Marshall Dean James G. Ellis, and Dean Varun Soni as mentors who were rooting for him at every turn.

“It is especially appropriate to call USC my alma mater, as the Latin translation is generous mother,” he said. “Through her doting generosity, USC has allowed me to learn from worldly professors, build lifelong relationships, and begin an exciting career.”

Doyle recently learned he was one of two students awarded the “Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Marketing." We are not surprised.