Reenergized to Reunite

A Commencement to Remember

It’s been more than 50 years since USC celebrated commencement at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but what’s old is new again. Thousands of 2020 and 2021 graduates and their families and supporters returned to University Park on May 14-20 to celebrate the accomplishments of the Trojan Family — under safety measures, of course. See some of their joy, learn about their achievements and experience some of the unforgettable moments they shared with the world.

Bina Venkataraman gives the 2021 commencement speech.

The Boston Globe’s Bina Venkataraman inspires graduates

The author and environmental advocate urged Trojans to tackle problems others have said are impossible and change the world.

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A USC graduate's mortar board with the words "We Did It" designed on it.

USC’s monumental commencement effort unleashes celebrations and makes history

As California emerged from the pandemic, the university staged seven days of ceremonies for the classes of 2020 and 2021 — and President Carol L. Folt was determined to make it happen.

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An image of the LA Coliseum big screen showing USC's graduation, with the Downtown Los Angeles skyline in the backdrop

Watch commencement as it happened, on video

See how students celebrated the culmination of their degrees — and listen to the stirring words of their supporters in a historic commencement ceremony.

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The classes of 2020 and 2021 come back together at the Coliseum

For the first time ever, USC staged 14 commencement ceremonies over seven days. The goal: To celebrate achievement while promoting the health of students and families during the pandemic.

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Tianna Shaw Wakeman

Valedictorian Tianna Shaw-Wakeman hopes to leave a lasting impact of sustainability at USC

Though she didn’t set foot on campus until orientation, Shaw-Wakeman quickly got involved in causes aimed at leaving the university — and the world — a little better for the next generation and beyond.

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Jake Bubman

Salutatorian Jake Bubman following family footsteps into legal career

From assisting in immigrant courtrooms to singing with the SoCal VoCals, Bubman has grown into himself during his Trojan tenure — and he’s looking forward to saying goodbye to his peers in person.

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Ashwin Bhumbla

Salutatorian Ashwin Bhumbla wants to use his engineering and tech background to make an impact

Through student organizations like Code the Change and Engineers Without Borders, Bhumbla assists underserved communities at home and abroad. He’s also a proud member of the Trojan Marching Band.

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Bob Kroener

Alum who left for Vietnam War before commencement returns to get diploma 50 years later

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Kroener MBA ’71, got called back to active duty during Vietnam and couldn’t participate in his own graduation ceremony. Now he’ll get his chance.

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Giovanni Flores

First-gen engineering grad ready to land Air Force career

Despite some early setbacks, graduating USC student Giovanni Flores is gaining momentum as he aims for a post-graduation pilot slot.

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Ethan Ward

From homelessness to graduation, this Trojan fights on against all odds

Ethan Ward started his secondary education in his mid-30s, and even lived in his car for a year to help make his college dreams come true. Now he’s a member of USC’s Class of 2021.

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USC graduates jump for a post outside the LA Memorial Coliseum

L.A. Times features commencement, in images

The joy and spectacle of the event is captured through the lenses of Times photographers. (Subscription may be required to open link.)

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Rows of USC graduates sitting 6 feet apart during the 2021 USC Commencement Ceremonies

CBS News highlights USC’s history-making commencement

With COVID-19 rates dropping, the nation is moving toward normalcy — and USC’s series of Coliseum ceremonies were cited as evidence that Americans can try to stage public events safely.

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