Claire Monro ’20 and Claire Fisher ’20 have taken some of the entrepreneurial mindset they’ve honed while students at the USC Marshall School of Business, and are using it to help some local small businesses impacted by the coronavirus and campus shutdown.
Monro and Fisher are seniors and members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Like all seniors, they’ve worked hard over the last four years, and were looking forward to all of the traditional milestones of their final spring semester—the last college class, that final walk through campus, The last few weeks with friends before everyone moves away and into the next chapter of their lives. They were looking forward to donning white dresses with cardinal sashes for their senior photos. They were looking forward to the culmination of commencement, before an audience of their family and friends.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic. To protect its students, faculty and staff and obey a state-wide mandate, the University closed its campuses and took all of its classes online just before Spring Break.
(View USC’s Coronavirus updates page) https://sites.usc.edu/coronavirus/
Long-planned Spring Break trips were canceled. Campus emptied out. “Most of the girls in our house were from the East Coast,” said Monro. “So they all just moved back home.”
“We really just wanted to bring the Trojan Spirit back to campus."—Claire Monro '20
They were among the last ones left at their senior house, a blue Victorian built in 1891. “The Blue House,” as it’s known, held so many good memories. But with students gone home or quarantined inside, the feeling on campus was bleak.
The Claires tried to keep it upbeat. Before they decamped for Monro’s parents’ home in Camarillo, they painted a large sign to hang outside their window: No Matter What, We Fight On!”
“We really just wanted to bring the Trojan Spirit back to campus,” Monro said. They were heartened when USC postponed commencement. “A lot of schools canceled their commencements altogether,” said Monro. “As seniors we are so grateful that USC only postponed it.”
That got them thinking. The university was doing what it could to support them in these unprecedented times. What could they do to help support the community that depended on the university?
“We wanted to help support Three Brothers Bikes, a small family-run shop that caters to students, Caveman Kitchen, and El Huero (known as Chanos) where all USC students go for a late night food run,” said Monro. “Generations of Trojans know and love places like these, and they depend on the student population.”
They decided to design a T-shirt to sell and donate the proceeds directly to these businesses.
They worked through Bonfire, a website that facilitates custom T-shirts for fundraising. Their T-shirt, which comes in black and white, sums up the current situation: On the front, a logo says “Fight On…line. On the back, an open laptop with the Fight On victory sign and a line underneath: “Spring Semester 2020.”
They put word of the fundraiser out to their social media followers. The Trojan family responded immediately. Orders were brisk.
Then they cold-emailed USC President Carol L. Folt to see if they could garner her support. They got it—and more.
“President Folt wrote back to us within the hour,” said Fisher. “She was so responsive and supportive. She was just amazing.”
Dr. Folt asked the USC Bookstore to stock the T-shirts, where it will be available after the website merch ships in April.
“In times like this you really see what the Trojan Family is made of,” said Monro. Turns out there are a lot of Trojans out there who are only too happy to help the small businesses around campus.
The Bonfire campaign runs through April 5 and T-shirts will ship April 13th. Monro and Fisher are finalizing the paperwork to license the logo for sale in the USC Bookstore.
As their senior year winds down, both Claires are feeling more connected to their Trojan family than ever. “Although our time as students is coming to a close, this experience has shown us that our time as members of the Trojan Family is only just beginning. Fight On Forever!”
Buy the T-shirt on Bonfire here: https://www.bonfire.com/usc-fight-online-tee/
Buy the T-shirt (after April 5) at the USC Bookstore here