Scholarship Luncheon Brings Together USC Davis School Students and Supporters

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Students Meet Donors to Show Gratitude for Continuous Support

Donors, students, faculty and members of the Board of Councilors gathered to celebrate the growing success of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology during this year’s scholarship luncheon on October 26, 2016.

While years had passed since the last scholarship gathering, Dean Pinchas Cohen shared how scholarship supporters advocated to bring back the special event for the opportunity to meet the students whom their donations are helping.

“Over 75 percent of our students receive some sort of scholarship support, without which they couldn’t come here and study. These scholarships are incredibly important for us and for our students and we all want to say thank you,” Cohen said.

Students and speakers highlighted some of the school’s endeavors and achievements made possible by the support of donors such as the ongoing renovations to the school and the many resources available to continue the Leonard Davis School mission of improving the quality of life for people across their lifespans.

“Your gifts and philanthropic support are the backbone to what makes us a free standing school of gerontology, the only one in the world and without your help we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Cohen said.

Keith Renken, member of the USC Davis School Board of Councilors and a scholarship supporter, said he has been involved with the school for 20 years and was proud of its achievements, especially the students it has educated and sent into the world.

“These are outstanding indivuduals who are going to make a difference,” Renken said.

A Grandfather’s Memory Fuels Passion for Gerontology

Leonard Davis School Endowed Scholarship recipient Nikki Windisch shares her path to a future in geriatrics.

Nikki Windisch
Nikki Windisch

Determined to enroll as a pre-med student at USC, Nikki Windisch walked through campus five years ago on Discover Day certain her future was in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Keck School of Medicine.

But as she headed to the parking lot, she noticed an information session in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology was about to begin.

“About five minutes in, I was sold. The opportunity to be a part of a smaller school that is the first and best school of gerontology in the country… is priceless,” Windisch said.

While Nikki’s choice to attend USC was influenced by the multiple alumni in her family, including her parents, her desire to pursue a career in medicine stemmed from an emotional connection to the university.

When she was three years old, Windisch accompanied her mother who was receiving treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, but with the support and excellent care from her doctors, Windisch’s mother is now 11-years cancer-free. However, Windisch’s determination to seek a career in geriatric medicine was guided by her Opa, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when she was in high school.

During her time as an undergraduate, Windisch benefitted from the various opportunities the school has to offer. She participated in conducting research, collaborated with members of the Student Gerontology Association, learned from brilliant professors and had the opportunity to give back and work with a population close to her heart.

Windisch is now working on her Masters in Gerontology and is preparing to apply to medical school next June. Additionally, she is completing an internship with the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Receiving the Leonard Davis School Endowed Scholarship allows Windisch to take full advantage of the opportunities and resources the school has to offer. She is thankful for the donors’ generosity because without it, passionate and committed students like her would not be provided the same opportunities to make a difference.

“As gerontology students, we’re connected to the very best in the field, we learn from our mentors and we get to make ourselves known. The school of gerontology is made up of so many smart and caring students who just like me, have amazing stories about why they chose to dedicate their lives to this field,” Windisch said.