1999 Valedictorian: Alaina K. Kipps

Alaina K. Kipps

Photo by Irene Fertik

May 14th is finally here! It has been a long haul since August of 1995 and I am proud to say that my brown 1964 Schwinn has survived all four years. I wonder how many miles I have dragged that battered old bike – rushing to the North Gym for practice, sprinting to SGM for chem lab, dashing home from Leavey at night.

On foot or by bike, we’ve all traversed Trousdale and Watt Way countless times: These buildings – whether it be Hoffman Hall of Business, Watt Hall of Architecture, the engineering labs in Olin, Booth rehearsal rooms, or the classrooms of Annenberg – have been fixtures in our college lives. Tomorrow we leave the buildings and walkways of USC, because we are moving on. The university has provided the structure for personal and intellectual growth – these walls have provided the structure in which we have practiced, researched, organized … accomplished.

AT USC WE HAVE LEARNED to continually expand our possibilities, constantly challenging and revising our world visions. Our intellect has been enriched by the ‘SC experience and our character cultivated by our personal interactions. While daily use of a bike leads to flat tires, broken spokes and squeaky brakes, daily use of your mind leads to knowledge, insight, and memories. Although time builds character for both students and bicycles, we are able to interact, adapt, and experiment. How we use our time and what we accomplish in the next half century will show the character of our generation.

Our time at USC is coming to closure today, and the diploma we each receive represents a tremendous amount of work cataloged with gallons of ink on hundreds of pounds of notebook paper. Our degrees are not the product of our effort alone, so today is a time to thank the people who have led us to success. Today we acknowledge the love, support, and encouragement from family and friends and the guidance, teaching, and advisement from professors and staff. We also thank each other for the friendship and memories which will last a lifetime. Yet, our verbal thanks today will only be substantiated by our actions in the future. Love, gratitude and compensation are not abstract nouns but verbs: they require actions. I implore you to give back to the next generation what you have received from your parents, professors, and coaches. We are in debt to more than the cashier’s office, and we will repay this debt by inspiring tomorrow’s youth to attain their goals.

How incredible to sit at the edge of the 21st century at the prime of our lives! We have the opportunity to better the human condition, heal the wounds left from a century of war and disease, and continue the humanitarian and diplomatic advancements begun by people like Rosa Parks and Warren Christopher. Let the excitement you feel today motivate you to make a personal pledge to work to improve your community.

Today, with 27,000 Trojans as my witnesses, I promise to become a knowledgeable and caring physician and help people return to the activities that make their lives meaningful.

LET US LEAVE a legacy more substantial than our DNA. Let us show our character in our daily choices and commitments. Let our history be highlighted by art, music, and literature; by scientific innovation and improved medical treatments; by peace treaties and diplomatic resolutions; and, of course, by new athletic records.

And let us celebrate along the way. Right now we are graduating. It’s the end of the game: you against your STARS report – and I don’t mean the independent counsel. We have sealed the victory by completing those last few crucial credits. Here at USC when the women’s volleyball team wins a match-up in the North Gym, our band plays “Conquest.” This piece – for many of you a staple of football games at the Coliseum – means so much to me because it symbolizes the joy of winning and knowing that the hard work has paid off.

At the end of today’s ceremony our band will play “Conquest” in our honor. At that time I hope you join me with victory signs up because the Class of 1999 has won!

I wish you all luck in your new careers and continuation of scholarship.

Congratulations and FIGHT ON!