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KUSC-FM Calls for Volunteers

Frances McCann loves classical music and opera, and has been a member of KUSC, the university’s classical radio station, for six years – that’s why she’s a KUSC volunteer.

“Volunteerism is one of those things that helps sustain communities,” said McCann, a lecturer in finance and business economics. “Economics is my thing, and volunteerism helps KUSC keep their cost of fund-raising down.”

KUSC-FM – which reaches more than 480,000 listeners each week – will hold a 10-day membership drive from Wednesday, Sept. 27 to Saturday, Oct. 7. This is the first of three annual fund drives, said Howard Wilson, KUSC Volunteer Coordinator.

McCann said she has taken part in previous membership drives and enjoys talking on the telephone to callers and “hobnobbing” with people who have the same interest. “I certainly think we have to do all we can to perpetuate classical music,” she added.

In the photo above, long-time volunteers Iris Rodgers (left) and Helen Hensley take calls.

Close to 75 percent of the public radio station’s budget comes from listeners, and there are currently nearly 30,000 members, up 2 percent from last year. Annual membership support is used for programming, to build the station’s compact disc library, and to maintain and upgrade transmission equipment. Yearly memberships range from $25 (seniors and students); $40 (basic membership); and higher levels ($120 and up) which allow members to take part in special performances and events.

Turning air into fuel: USC scientists convert carbon dioxide into methanol

The carbon dioxide-to-methanol process (Illustration/Courtesy of Surya Prakash)

They’re making fuel from thin air at the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute.

For the first time, researchers there have directly converted carbon dioxide from the air into methanol at relatively low temperatures.

The work, led by G.K. Surya Prakash and George Olah of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, is part of a broader effort to stabilize the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by using renewable energy to transform the greenhouse gas into its combustible cousin – attacking global warming from two angles simultaneously. Methanol is a clean-burning fuel for internal combustion engines, a fuel for fuel cells and a raw material used to produce many petrochemical products.

We need to learn to manage carbon. That is the future.

Surya Prakash

“We need to learn to manage carbon. That is the future,” said Prakash, professor of chemistry and director of the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute.

The researchers bubbled air through an aqueous solution of pentaethylenehexamine (or PEHA), adding a catalyst to encourage hydrogen to latch onto the CO2 under pressure. They then heated the solution, converting 79 percent of the CO2 into methanol. Though mixed with water, the resulting methanol can be easily distilled, Prakash said.

Industrial use

The new process was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on Dec. 29. Prakash and Olah hope to refine the process to the point that it could be scaled up for industrial use, though that may be five to 10 years away.

“Of course it won’t compete with oil today, at around $30 per barrel,” Prakash said. “But right now we burn fossilized sunshine. We will run out of oil and gas, but the sun will be there for another five billion years. So we need to be better at taking advantage of it as a resource.”

Despite its outsized impact on the environment, the actual concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is relatively small – roughly 400 parts per million, or 0.04 percent of the total volume, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. (For a comparison, there’s more than 23 times as much the noble gas Argon in the atmosphere – which still makes up less than 1 percent of the total volume.)

Lower temperatures

Previous efforts have required a slower multistage process with the use of high temperatures and high concentrations of CO2, meaning that renewable energy sources would not be able to efficiently power the process, as Olah and Prakash hope.

The new system operates at around 125 to 165 degrees Celsius (257 to 359 degrees Fahrenheit), minimizing the decomposition of the catalyst – which occurs at 155 degrees Celsius (311 degrees Fahrenheit). It also uses a homogeneous catalyst, making it a quicker “one-pot” process. In a lab, the researchers demonstrated that they were able to run the process five times with only minimal loss of the effectiveness of the catalyst.

Olah and Prakash collaborated with graduate student Jotheeswari Kothandaraman and senior research associates Alain Goeppert and Miklos Czaun of USC Dornsife. The research was supported by the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute.

Documentary on World’s Fair architecture tells a personal story

Mina Chow at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo

Since returning from the World Expo with initial footage, the two applied for dozens of grants, and in the highly competitive world of documentary funding, have been quite successful. In mid-May, an arts and architecture foundation, the Graham Foundation of Chicago, added a grant of $10,000. An American venture capitalist living in Shanghai pledged $45,000 two weeks ago, bringing the cash total of contributions to $200,880 — enough to lock down a rough version of the 97-minute film.

It will cost an additional $100,000 to completely finish the film, Chow estimated, but the team hopes to attract a television network with the rough version and get money to finish from the broadcast rights. The plan also is to take Face of a Nation to festivals to publicize the documentary.

“The film asks what is the image Americans portray to the world,” Chow said. “We’ve stopped participating in one of the biggest soft power exercises there is.”

Politicians promoting small government did not allow any taxpayer dollars to be used for the American pavilion in Shanghai, she noted. Opponents against investing in groundbreaking architecture argued that the Internet and Hollywood movies can broadcast American innovation and image around the globe.

The film includes Chow family home movies, using her parents’ respect for American national images as a way to reflect the larger story. “It’s disguising a political story in a personal one,” she said.

Chow, who teaches an architectural professional practice course and an interdisciplinary building science design studio, this year also has been busy with a second cinema project: directing and producing 100 Years of Architecture, a 15-minute film for the school’s centennial. It will premiere June 4 at the USC Architectural Guild’s annual dinner.

returning veterans

VA Medical Center Hosts “Welcome Home”, A Health and Job Fair for Returning Combat Veterans

May 14, 2011- More than one-thousand returning combat Veterans, active duty service personnel and their family members received valuable health care and benefits information, a free lunch, and a whole day of family-friendly entertainment at the “Welcome Home” Celebration held at the Crystal Gateway Marriot in Arlington, Va. VA photo by Robert Turtil.

Sharing a Valuable Los Angeles Resource

Government documents librarian Anthony Anderson and Judy Truelson, head of the Doheny Electronic Resources Center. Making information available to scholars worldwide is “one contribution the library can make to the world,” Anderson said.

Photo by Irene Fertik

Even before the Los Angeles civil disturbances of 1992, government documents librarian Anthony Anderson was collecting a list of resources about life in Los Angeles.

After the riots, this bibliography grew to include reports about how and why they happened, and it became all the more important to researchers and scholars nationwide and beyond.

Anderson completed the bulk of his resource base, Los Angeles – A City in Stress, in 1992, but the work hasn’t stopped there. And now he is in the process of making the resources available on-line.

“We still continue to collect things,” Anderson said. “Obviously the number of government publications has gone down, but secondary sources – dissertations, trade books and university texts – are still being published.

“It’s a growing collection, but it’s not just books dealing specifically with the LA riots. A lot of it deals with a city in crisis, overall problems of Los Angeles in the ’90s.”

Originally, the bibliography and the items listed were available only on paper, and researchers had to come to the university libraries. In one case, a scholar traveled from Harvard University to view the original materials.

“In some cases the people are able to come to USC, but for others, it’s not that easy,” Anderson said. And while some books can be lent out to other libraries, some are too valuable for that option.

In response to a number of requests from researchers nation- and worldwide, Anderson is undertaking a project to make reports available in full text on the World Wide Web. “The impetus to put things on the Web was to give access to people who are not in the immediate area or not able to come to campus to do their research,” he said.

“People are now in the habit of thinking that everything’s up on the Web, but there’s a lot of historical material – and by ‘historical’ I mean things from more than three years ago – that’s not up there. A lot of government agencies are putting things on the Web and still publishing them on paper, but they often have neither the interest nor the resources to put previously published works on-line.”

Transferring these printed materials to the Web for the first time is a time-consuming project. Reports are first scanned page by page and then interpreted using optical character recognition software. The software is not perfect, though, and each page must be carefully edited by hand to catch individual mistakes. After this time-consuming work is finished, the text is ready to be tagged with codes used for viewing on the Web.

In addition to scanning the text, Anderson and his assistants are able to reproduce the accompanying graphs and photos.

“Often when government agencies do release documents on the Web, they’ll make a Web version available that will have the text, but the visuals are left out. So we’re trying as much as possible to get the full monty. That may be an interesting challenge,” Anderson said.

One potentially giant obstacle, copyrights, has proved to be a non-issue because most U.S. government documents are not copyrighted. Anderson is starting his on-line collection with those items first.

After these items are completed, Anderson said he hopes to add reports put out by think tanks such as the RAND Corp. “By showing them the quality of what we’re doing, we are hoping we can convince them to give us permission,” Anderson said.

Both Anderson and Judy Truelson, head of the Doheny Electronic Resources Center, agree that making these hard-to-find resources available is a responsibility that lies with academics such as themselves.

“If it’s going to happen it’s going to be through the efforts of people who are outside of the government, here at USC or outside Los Angeles, who have a responsibility for that kind of work,” Anderson said.

This, Truelson said, is a taking-off point for what the Electronic Resources Center hopes to accomplish. We are being “proactive in making information available, and enhancing the value of that information,” she said.

Making this information so accessible, Anderson said, is “one contribution the library can make to the world.”

A plan to secure clean water in Africa turns out well

Sharon Stone and USC Dornsife alumnus Justin Arana in Northern Uganda

Produced by Sharon Stone, the film about Arana’s efforts to bring clean water to Morrungulo and Mozambique premiered Oct. 16 at the Hollywood Film Festival.

Back in Morrungulo, a day after witnessing the water condition, Arana passed by the local hospital. Long lines of women and children waited patiently to be examined. He asked one of the nurses about everyone’s treatment.

“She said most all of the patients had water-borne diseases,” Arana said. “There were a handful of cases of AIDS and malaria, but that cholera and other diseases were the most prevalent. They couldn’t keep any supply of medicine in the hospital because people just keep coming in with ailments from unclean water.”

A smart solution

At that point in his life, Arana was already an experienced traveler. During his senior year in college, he had volunteered as a medical aid worker in the Darfur region of Sudan during the height of the genocide.

Following that, he worked with divestment campaigns related to the ongoing genocide. Now it appeared he had another opportunity to make a difference.

That evening, he sent an email to his former colleagues from his work with Darfur initiatives. He described the situation in Mozambique and posed a solution: The village needed a water well. He would oversee the installation and management if funds could be provided.

For about $6,000, infrastructure could be built so that Morrungulo residents could tap into fresh water in aquifers below ground, he said. Children who previously stayed home from school to help their mothers collect water on twice daily, three-hour round-trip journeys could be back in class learning. Diseases could be prevented.

“Water is a human necessity,” Arana said. “If you’re getting unclean water, it affects every single part of life.”

The next morning, Arana received an email. A donor came through with the funds. 
As a result of the new well, which was placed in the local school so that all families could easily access it, attendance at the school doubled. Arana set up an oversight committee to ensure that water would be equally distributed and the well would be maintained.

“There’s a shocking statistic of how many wells end up failing in sub-Saharan Africa because of a lack of maintenance,” Arana said. “So many things can go wrong from a gasket breaking or pipes corroding. We didn’t want to put a well in and then have it break down and be no good to anybody.”

A self-reliant community thrives

Involving the community in the well’s upkeep also established self-reliance and dignity in the community, Arana noted. Six years later, the well in Morrungulo continues to thrive.

Children carry containers filled with water in Northern Uganda.

“These are all lessons that I had learned during my time at USC,” said Arana, who credits his international relations courses in “International Organizations” and the “Politics of Global Environment” with building a solid foundation for his work in Mozambique.

His efforts and expertise were noticed by Stone, whose philanthropy is related to AIDS research in developing countries.

Since 1995, Stone has worked with the AIDS research organization amfAR. The group had made strides in helping HIV-positive women deliver healthy babies. In many countries, mothers cannot nurse their babies without transmitting the infection. They must use formula, which is often mixed with unclean water. Stone wanted to educate herself about preventing water-borne illnesses in these babies.

An inspiration to others?

Arana was asked to accompany Stone on a tour of cities in Northern Uganda and South Africa to learn more about the issue. During the trip, Stone learned about Arana’s work in Mozambique and encouraged him to turn his footage into a documentary. The result became My Name Is Water. Arana hopes the film will inspire others to take action to seek positive change.

“We have the power to make a difference,” Arana said. “It’s not something that’s dependent on major organizations. We have the capacity to touch people’s lives in a very powerful way. Water is a wonderful example of that. When you bring clean water to a community, you see results right away.”

Arana continues to bring wells with clean water to other communities in Mozambique and other parts of Africa with Water Underground, a nonprofit he founded.

Although Arana’s grandfather died before seeing his grandson’s contributions, Arana is at peace knowing the answer he would give to his grandfather’s question would now be “Yes.”

 

USC gives peace a chance

Volunteers from USC’s Latino Floor provide free tutoring and mentoring for neighborhood children.

On a recent Saturday afternoon at the United University Church on USC’s University Park campus, a child asked a group of freshmen how to stay focused despite gangs and drugs at his middle school.

With support from a $15,000 USC Neighborhood Outreach grant, a year-round program called Peace Camp/Peace Kids/Youth Leadership Academy in Peacemaking can suggest some answers.

A collaboration between USC’s El Centro Chicano and Latino Floor and the United University Church’s Peace Center, the program teaches conflict resolution, meditation, yoga, mindful eating habits and violence prevention to children ages 5 to 18.

Participants listen to guest speakers; learn about “peace heroes” such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr.; and participate in letter-writing campaigns and service projects.

At the end of each five-hour Saturday session, students from the Latino Floor – a residential community of 32 freshmen interested in Chicano and Latino culture – provide an additional 90 minutes of free tutoring and 30 minutes of mentoring about everything from college preparedness to identity issues and the threat of violence.

“Some of it is fun and games and very entertaining,” said Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano. “And then some of it is very deep and makes our current Latino Floor students more aware of the privileges that they have coming to USC and also the reality and challenges some of our [Peace Kids] are facing [in] trying to come to USC down the line.”

Vela estimated that 95 percent of the residents of the Latino Floor have volunteered with the program, which meets every two to three weeks. Between 10 and 20 children usually stay for the tutoring and mentoring segment.

“I like the one-on-one tutor sessions,” said Sandra Zaragoza, a Latino Floor resident majoring in biochemistry. “My child [who I tutored] said this program really helped her grades, and she enjoys school more now.”

Fellow Latino Floor resident and biochemistry major Jorge Rodriguez pointed out that the children aren’t the only ones to benefit from the program. “I’ve always loved tutoring others, so it’s a blessing to learn from others and teach as well,” he said.

Peace Camp/Peace Kids/Youth Leadership Academy in Peacemaking is one of more than 411 programs that have received grants from USC Neighborhood Outreach since 1995. The nonprofit grant-making organization enhances the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the University Park and Health Sciences campuses through donations from USC faculty, staff and others.

Many of the gifts come during the annual USC Good Neighbors Campaign, which asks university faculty and staff to contribute a portion of their paychecks to support programs that help strengthen local communities.

“I wish I had this type of program when I was growing up,” said Latino Floor resident Arnold Monroy. “This is a way of giving back to the communities that these kids come from. This is my second time returning to Peace Kids and will definitely not be my last. I will help recruit because these children are our future.”

Established in 1972, El Centro Chicano serves as a support and resource center for all students and their families. Created in 1974-75, the Latino Floor residential program gives first-year students an opportunity to connect with peers who have similar interests or cultural backgrounds.

For more information, visit www.uniteduniversitychurch.org/peace/index.html

It Really Is a Small World After All

Michálle Mor Barak teaches her global diversity management class.

Photo/Brian Goodman

It’s business as usual for the USC School of Social Work students taking professor Michálle Mor Barak’s global diversity management class.

Vasanthi Srinivasan, a professor from the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, is beamed to a USC classroom as the day’s guest lecturer.

Srinivasan pulls the shades on the setting sun and welcomes the pupils she sees on her computer screen. Half a universe away, it’s another beautiful Southern California morning.

Utilizing the school’s distance-learning studio, a live interactive video feed connects students at the University Park campus with classmates in Orange County, who interact with another monitor featuring that week’s guest speaker. This semester, “visiting” scholars have hailed from France, Germany, India and the United Kingdom.

Mor Barak originally proposed the idea for the class as she was writing the first draft of her award-winning book, Managing Diversity: Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace, which is now used as a textbook in the course.

With input from students, she determined that inviting speakers from other countries to talk to the class about diversity and management would be an inventive way to illustrate her lessons.

“Our ability to bring guest speakers from other countries via video conferencing makes a huge difference because it demonstrates on a daily basis how global we’ve all become and how small the world is,” Mor Barak said.

The global diversity management class is especially suited for the possibilities provided by distance-learning technology.

“It was one of my most positive experiences at USC,” MSW candidate Delilah Carolina said. “The typical classroom environment is nowhere near as exciting as the high-tech classroom.

Despite a few technical problems, students are quick to point out the benefits of distance learning. Many Orange County students were happy to save commuting time and participate remotely. Because each lecture is posted online following class, students have unlimited access, giving them the opportunity to review the classes as many times as they want and to expand the learning process beyond the classroom.

The course was designed with an interdisciplinary focus to accommodate the varied interests of students. Some are fascinated by issues of globalization and are interested in the topic in general. Others want to do business abroad, and some wish to promote diversity and equality in the workplace.

Mor Barak asks the guest scholars to talk about diversity management specific to their countries and regions. Often, they also are willing to share details about themselves as representative examples of a globalized society.

For example, Cordula Barzantny, who teaches at the Toulouse Business School, spoke to the class from France.

Fang Lee Cook, director of the Centre for Chinese Business and Management Studies at the Manchester Business School, spoke from England. Before moving to the United Kingdom, she was an interpreter in China.

Cook gave a lecture comparing diversity management in China and India, a subject she felt is likely to take on an increasing level of significance in the coming decades.

Nico L dtke of Liebherr Aerospace, the guest from Germany, spoke to the class about facilitating relationships among employees in different countries.

He suggested people’s attitudes about time, tasks and relationships would be different in Germany than in Brazil and that misunderstandings can arise from those differences.

A hub of Armenian history makes its mark

Armenian women gather with their children in Turkey in 1915.

Growing up in an Armenian community in Wisconsin, Richard Antaramian began wondering about his family’s history.

The answers he received didn’t adequately address his curiosity.

“It pushed me into more rigorous areas of inquiry, and ultimately I came out with a Ph.D. and a lifelong desire both to teach and research the rich history of the Armenian people,” said Antaramian, assistant professor of history and holder of the Turpanjian Early Career Chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

He currently teaches two undergraduate courses on the Ottomans and World War I. In the spring he’ll teach a class on the Armenian diaspora.

Antaramian’s faculty position was established this year in conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of USC Dornsife’s Institute of Armenian Studies and a commitment from faculty, staff and administrators university-wide to create a preeminent program for Armenian studies at USC.

We have thousands of students who are not Armenian who also can learn from our scholars’ incredible wealth of knowledge.

Steve Kay

“Exploring Armenia in such depth offers a wonderful opportunity for our students,” said Steve Kay, dean of USC Dornsife, at an anniversary gala that raised nearly $2 million to support research, education and outreach. “At any given time, USC has almost 1,000 Armenian students on our campus. But, thinking bigger, we have thousands of students who are not Armenian who also can learn from our scholars’ incredible wealth of knowledge.”

The IAS was established in 2005 as part of a partnership between USC and the Armenian community to structure a multidisciplinary center of learning. The fall gala paid tribute to USC President C. L. Max Nikias, a staunch supporter since the institute’s inception.

“President Nikias advocated for us 10 years ago, and we are grateful that he continues to believe that, in scholarship, there are no insignificant fields,” said Charles Ghailian, chair of the IAS Leadership Council. “Going forward, the institute will be a more visible, active organization that initiates research, collaborates with other global centers of Armenian studies and engages with various areas of study on campus.”



Ambitious aims

Newly appointed IAS Director Salpi Ghazarian ’75 — who earned her bachelor’s from USC Dornsife in history and social science — has ambitious goals for the institute’s growth, including hosting cultural events and lectures, and bringing Armenian political figures to campus for discussions with faculty and students. Ghazarian will build on the foundation laid by Richard Dekmejian, who has directed the institute for the past decade.

She also hopes to foster an environment of expanded research and publication, delving into such issues as the Armenian diaspora and the Armenian Genocide.

“I am so pleased to be able to come back to USC to participate in expanding the field of Armenian studies so that it both contributes to and benefits from this incredibly broad scholarly community,” said Ghazarian, who previously founded and directed The Civilitas Foundation, a civic organization and advocacy group that empowers its employees to make decisions about and raise awareness of Armenian issues through the Internet, research and public programming.

Earlier this year, the Armenian Film Foundation officially gave J. Michael Hagopian’s collection of 400 digitized interviews of Armenian Genocide survivors and witnesses to the Visual History Archive at the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education.

Richard Hovannisian, adjunct professor of history, was appointed to take the lead on advising the USC Shoah Foundation on integrating these testimonies into the archive of 53,000 interviews from the Holocaust and other genocides.

Ghazarian plans to work with the USC Shoah Foundation to develop lesson plans based on these testimonies.

“There is no aspect of our existence that was not impacted by the Armenian Genocide,” Ghazarian said.

As history unfolds

Antaramian’s research focuses on the role of the Armenian Church under Ottoman governance during the 19th century. At USC, he will expand his dissertation, “In Subversive Service of the Sublime State: Tanzimat, Consolidating Jurisdiction and Armenian Reform in the Ottoman Empire, 1844-1896” into a book.

“We are typically told that there was an antagonistic relationship between Armenians and the Ottoman governance — but that’s not the case,” Antaramian said. “My research shows that the Armenian Church itself became a site of politics in the Ottoman Empire.”

Antaramian appreciates having the opportunity to research and teach in Los Angeles, which has a diverse Armenian community from Turkey, Syria, Iran and many other countries of the diaspora.

To me, diaspora signifies all the communities throughout the world who share common experience and institutional connections.

Richard Antaramian

“To me, diaspora signifies all the communities throughout the world who share common experience and institutional connections,” Antaramian said. “If a student wanted to do oral interviews with someone for a project or paper, he or she could do it right here.”

He also believes that the depth of the Armenian diaspora in Los Angeles will attract graduate students and visiting scholars to USC Dornsife.

Antaramian and Ghazarian will work together to encourage scholarship and raise awareness of Armenian issues — past and present.

“This is a new era of scholarship, a new broad interdisciplinary world of study — generally in the 21st century, certainly at USC, and now with Armenian studies at USC Dornsife,” Ghazarian said. “Going forward, we will make the institute’s presence permeate into many other disciplines, offering a unique opportunity both for students and professors to get a deeper understanding of what it means to be Armenian.”

Leading the charge of global dental brigades

Erin Walker brings smiles to children in Honduras.

Imagine walking for days to a makeshift mobile medical clinic to receive free health care, then standing in line with more than 1,000 others for days, hoping to be treated.

Erin Walker, a USC predentistry student majoring in neuroscience at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, saw this firsthand in Honduras last winter when she volunteered with Global Medical Brigades, a student-led global health organization that provides mobile medical clinics in communities in Honduras, Ghana and Panama.

For Walker, the life-changing experience led her to form a dental brigades chapter at USC.

“It’s really amazing to see how thankful the people are and what an impact you can have,” said Walker, a senior majoring in neuroscience and human biology.

According to Walker, since Global Medical Brigades focuses heavily on health care but not as much on dental care, she came up with a solution. In fall 2012, she founded USC Global Dental Brigades and began collaborating with students from the Virginia Tech Global Medical Brigades chapter to plan another trip to Honduras to establish a joint medical and dental clinic. In January, Walker and six other USC predental students boarded a plane to Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

“Being in the trenches of dentistry is great, but I also think it’s all about the human connection and how significant that can be,” she said.

During the one-week trip, Walker and her team rose before dawn each day and drove for two hours on dirt roads to schools or churches, which they transformed into a pharmacy, consultation rooms and operating rooms.

The dental clinic housed a row of classroom chairs lined up for patients needing extractions and a reclining lawn chair used for patients needing restorative work. Most of the work was done illuminated by a handheld flashlight due to the lack of natural lighting.

Despite logistical challenges, the team performed 143 extractions and 71 fillings and, along with students from Virginia Tech, served 1,020 patients in four days. At the end of each day, the team tore down the clinic, packed up all of the supplies and commuted two hours back to its lodging.

Walker enlisted the help of dentist Elbert Tom, whose daughter, Rebecca, is USC’s dental brigades president. Tom said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he accompanied the students to Honduras, but is glad he went.

“Erin is absolutely wonderful. There are not enough nice things that I could say about her,” said Tom, who had a private practice in Van Nuys, Calif., and is an oral radiology and restorative dentistry instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “She has a way of getting people to assist in causes. Erin was nice enough to explain what the expectations of me were and that took a lot of pressure off of my shoulders.”

Because she speaks Spanish fluently, Walker acted as office manager and patient coordinator at the makeshift dental clinic. She also enjoyed teaching children how to brush and floss properly and provided fluoride treatments.

Walker is busy trying to expand the dental brigades club and planning another trip for this January, though she won’t likely go because she’s applying to dental school. The Oak Park, Calif., native has enjoyed participating in several honor societies at USC, being a USC Spirit Leader for two years and playing on the USC women’s club ice hockey team. She studied abroad in South Africa and Brazil, and will spend this summer at Oxford University doing a research project on HIV and AIDS. Her long-term goal is to work in general dentistry and continue serving those in need.

“No matter what I do, I definitely will always incorporate a component of service, whether it be in LA, because there is definitely is a need here, or abroad,” Walker said. “I’ll find a way.”