Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous, Ambitious
USC was founded primarily by Methodists and was under the jurisdiction of the Methodist Episcopal Church until 1926, four years before Tommy Trojan was "born." Faith was thus part of the school from the very beginning, and lives on in the more than 80 religious organizations on campus today. But I think this quality goes beyond religion.
"Faithful" implies loyalty and commitment. This can be towards a higher power, an institution, or a cause, as well as towards family, friends, and loved ones.
USC is a college, after all, so it makes sense to find this quality engraved in stone. Though knowledge can be pursued for its own sake, it is also a form of power available to anyone.
To me, this means putting the theory of being scholarly into practice in the field. Knowledge is one thing; ability is another. This quality shows that knowledge shouldn't be abstract, but should be put to use. To be able not just to do things but to do them well is a goal I try to strive for, though I admit my reach exceeds my grasp.
Skill can be more effective than intelligence or power. As the 17th-century British clergyman Thomas Fuller noted, "'Tis skill, not strength, that governs a ship."
What good is faith, knowledge, or talent, if we're afraid to use it when it matters most? Courage is a quality seen in almost every great leader and innovator in history, from Zheng He to Franklin Roosevelt to Rosa Parks. Though I don't compare myself to such luminaries, I do try to be bold in matters small and medium, in preparation for when a crucial moment comes.
As Roosevelt's wife Eleanor observed, if you "really stop to look fear in the face...you are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
This may be the most helpful quality for new graduates: To strive for more. To be better today than you were yesterday. To set sights for new horizons. In a way, the other four qualities lead to this, the desire to go further than others did. I certainly have my share of ambitions, a few of which I've achieved, a few I'm working towards, and many that will never come to pass.
Jason Ginsburg is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He works in television and lives in New York City with his wife and cat.