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Ending the year on a bittersweet note, the USC Leonard Davis School graduated its largest class thus far while bidding longtime dean Gerald C. Davison goodbye.

“After a wonderful five and a half years, this will be my final commencement as your dean. On July 1, I will return to teaching and research in the department of psychology,” Davison said in his address. “I can’t think of a better or more meaningful way to cap off my tenure as dean than to celebrate the achievements of our graduates.”

He introduced incoming dean, Pinchas “Hassy” Cohen, MD, who drew a connection between himself and the recent grads.

“We are both entering a new phase in our lives. Me as the leader of this unique, world-leading School that is constantly breaking new ground, and you, as recent graduates, embarking on new careers where you will make a difference in the lives of aging adults worldwide,” Cohen said. “Becoming part of the Trojan family is an important and exciting new aspect of my life, and I know everyone in this room takes this honor as seriously as I do.”

The ceremony featured faculty, staff and students uniting, with Tara Gruenewald, PhD and Aaron Hagedorn, PhD serving as faculty marshals while Lu Zhang and Elaine Martini served as student flag and banner bearers.

For their PhDs in Gerontology, Kathleen Wilber, PhD, hooded Zachary Gassoumis, Merril Silverstein, PhD, hooded Jessica Penn Lendon and Mara Mather, PhD, hooded Nichole Lighthall and Kaoru Nashiro. Kelvin J.A. Davies, PhD, D.Sc., presented a recognition of the affiliated doctorate to Andrew Michael Pickering.

Caleb Finch, PhD presented Lighthall and Nashiro with the prestigious Heinz Osterburg Prize, while Dean Davison presented Sean Curran, PhD, with the Dean’s Outstanding Faculty Award for his banner year mentoring students.

“As his students and colleagues will attest, Dr. Curran is a world-class researcher, professor and mentor,” Dean Davison said. “We are immensely proud of him.”

Davison went on to recognize many of the faculty’s recent awards, including Finch winning USC’s Presidential Medallion; Davies winning the Sigma Phi Omega Award as well as being knighted by the country of France; Valter Longo, PhD, winning the Vincent Cristofalo “Rising Star” Award in Aging Research from the American Federation for Aging Research; and Susan Enguídanos winning a USC Mellon Mentoring Award, the Betty and James E. Birren Emerging Leadership Award from the California Council on Gerontology & Geriatrics as well as Faculty Member of the Year from the Student Gerontology Association.

Inspiring both tears and jubilation, the ceremony capped off a long journey for many of the students and inspired all present.

“Your degree from USC is something you have earned by dint of your intelligence, industriousness and commitment,” Davison said. “It is yours forever and it will only grow in value as the key to your future. On behalf of the faculty and staff of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, I congratulate each and every one of you, and wish you all the best.”

Congratulations to all our graduates and award winners! Fight On, Gero!


engAGING Awards: Tameka Brown, Susan Hurt, Alice Kim, Emily Loynachan, Elaine Martini, Anna Nguyen, Tammy Nguyen, Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto, Lu Zhang

Heinz Osterburg Prize: Nichole Lighthall, PhD and Kaoru Nashiro, PhD

Order of Troy: Alyssa Bobman, Michelle Huynh, Gina Jaqua, Lu Zhang

Order of Arete: Matthew Bressette, Sonia Nguyen, Karen Marcy Pham, Stephanie Polson

Order of Laurel and Palm: Alice Kim, Emily Loynachan

Renaissance Scholar: Michelle Huynh, Alice Kim, Emily Loynachan, Lu Zhang

Discovery Scholar: Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto (Prize Finalist), Alice Kim (Prize Finalist)

Gerontology Minors: Christopher Frace, Gina Jaqua

Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging: Alyssa Bobman, Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto, Valerie Cromwell, Nathan Cutietta, Michelle Huynh, Alice Kim, Jonathan Li, Emily Loynachan, Caite O’Brien, Shannon Sullivan, Kim Vu, Lu Zhang

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology: Athan Bezaitis, Peter Lancellotti, Marcie Terasawa-Lew

Master of Long Term Care Administration: Christopher Jackson

Master of Arts in Gerontology: Valerie Applewhite, Tameka Brown, Christine Cavanaugh, Susan Cherco, Wan Ping Chin, Ashley Chun, Shawna Conlan, Kevin Crowell, Alexis Denton, Hema Doshi, Jennifer Fry, Yadira Garcia, Molly Gleason-Kodama, Carrie Greer, Susan Hurt, Kathleen Taylor

Master of Aging Services Management: Cynthia Bradshaw, Renee Cunningham, Liang Dong, Alicia Figueroa-Tiler, Jacqueline Gemelos, Madeline Heller, Teresa Hill, Karen Marcy Pham

Master of Science in Gerontology: Amy Bassoff, Sara Bonnell, Matthew Bressette, Lisa Brinkmann, Megan Calhoun, Poyin Chen, Jung Hoon Choi, Jenny Chou, Nora Dabuni, Raquel Delorio, Ayesha Dixon, Kyla Forbes, Maddison Gan, Janice Gastelum, Heather Harada, Elaine Martini, Lauren McNamara, Anna Nguyen, Sonia Nguyen, Tammy-Tam Nguyen, Yusuke Ninomiya, David Orenstein, Stephanie Polson, Maria Siciliano, Natalie Warrick

Doctor of Philosophy in Gerontology: Zachary Gassoumis, Jessica Penn Lendon, Nichole Lighthall, Kaoru Nashiro

Recognition of Affiliated Doctorate: Andrew Michael Pickering


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