University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Orientation Programs Takes Five with I Am a Trojan

By Nathan Carter Monday, November 5, 2012

Trojans are faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous and ambitious.Photo by Nathan CarterTrojans are faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous and ambitious.

Faithful. Scholarly. Skillful. Courageous. Ambitious. These five traits, inscribed on the base of the Tommy Trojan statue, are the focus of a new university wide initiative: I Am a Trojan.

Through the initiative, USC Orientation Programs, part of the Division of Student Affairs, will partner with university departments and schools to educate students, faculty and staff about the five traits’ meaning and value. The newly launched I Am a Trojan Website ( features online profiles of members of the Trojan Family who exemplify the traits, and Orientation Programs is developing a traits-based leadership training program for student organizations.

“The traits are simple and elegant yet powerful in the message that they tell about what USC aspires to and what we want young people to aspire to,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson. “They provide a common framework that we all can identify with that will inspire us to do our best.”

The seed of the program was planted at the 2011 conference of the National Orientation Directors Association. UCLA and UC, Riverside gave a presentation on their creation of core values to use during new student orientation. USC student Jessica Frey, then a session coordinator for Orientation, had an epiphany.

“I was sitting there, and I thought: USC already has these values — the five traits of a Trojan,” said Frey, now a senior theatre major and the student transition coordinator responsible for the I Am a Trojan program. “We want everyone to be aware of these traits, know what they mean and know that they are responsible for upholding these traits. That’s what makes them Trojans.”

Frey returned from the conference with the idea of implementing these traits during that summer’s orientation. She worked with the staff to develop student discussions that helped incoming freshmen discern which traits they most identify with and aspire to embody. The success of these programs inspired the university to expand the initiative.

Orientation assembled a committee including students, staff, faculty and representatives from a variety of academic divisions and units. They developed specific definitions for each trait, which can be found on the I Am a Trojan Website.

“It really works for us because we already have an amazing sense of school spirit, and this is just one way that we can push that school spirit in a really positive direction,” said Chrissy Roth, associate director of Orientation.

In addition to providing new programming, the I Am a Trojan initiative encourages departments and organizations to make the traits part of the vocabulary of their current programs. The Viterbi School of Engineering, for instance, built its annual faculty retreat around the traits.

“One of our main goals is bringing all the university together as one, because we all have something in common,” said Melissa Turk, who was hired as program manager for Orientation Programs in part to spearhead the initiative.

“We all are proud to be Trojans, and we all have these similar attributes,” Frey said. “That’s why we’re here at USC.”

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