Photo credit: CNN Worldwide
From entrepreneurs to New York Times Bestsellers, GPA students saw a wide range of accomplished individuals on site this academic year. Here are 7 of the most memorable:
Reza Aslan Writer, Commentator Professor, Producer, Scholar of Religions
Reza Aslan is an internationally renowned writer, commentator, professor, producer, and scholar of religions, who addresses topics of Islam, the Middle East, and Muslim Americans with authority, wit, and infectious optimism. He is the author of multiple books, including Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth--a momentous work of popular scholarship that rocketed to #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List. In addition to his role as a Consulting Producer on the acclaimed HBO series The Leftovers, Aslan is also the host and Executive Producer of two other original television programs: CNN’s documentary series, Believer and Rough Draft with Reza Aslan (premiered on Ovation). Aslan’s first book, International Bestseller No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, has been translated into seventeen languages and was named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade by Blackwell Publishers.
Santino Rice Fashion Designer. Vegan. Raw Lifestyle Expert
In 2005, Santino Rice participated as a contestant on the 2nd season of the Bravo reality show Project Runway and was one of three finalists selected to show at Olympus Fashion Week in New York City. Rice has appeared as a judge on the Logo reality program RuPaul's Drag Race and also starred in the Lifetime show On the Road with Austin and Santino, alongside fellow Project Runway alumnus Austin Scarlett. From there, Santino's battles with his own health created a dramatic shift in his priorities. In addition to his love for sustainable fashion, he is also passionate about the healing power of plant-based cuisine and has spearheaded the beverage program at the new Downtown LA eatery, Wild Living Foods that make delicious raw, vegan foods more accessible to a wider audience. Santino now speaks about the power of plant-based living, sustainable fashion practices, and continues to be an arbiter of taste, style, and beauty.
Professor at USC Iovine and Young, founder of verynice Design Strategy Agency
Called “crazy or genius” by Forbes, and recognized as one of the 100 most influential creatives working today by HOW Magazine, Matthew Manos is the Founder of verynice and Editor-in-Chief of Reginald. Driven by a mission to alleviate expenses for non-profit organizations while increasing access to design strategy for all, verynice launched in 2008 as one of the first examples of social enterprise in the design industry.
Matthew is also an author or editor of over 20 books and toolkits on the intersections of creativity, strategy, and social impact. He has delivered lectures, facilitated workshops, or exhibited work in 18 countries, including 2 TEDx talks. In addition to running verynice, Matthew is the Assistant Dean for Academic Strategy and an Assistant Professor of Design at the USC Iovine and Young Academy, a school that brings together design, business, and technology in order to create the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.
Joe Choe Activist and Activator.
Joe graduated from Harvard University Magna Cum Laude in Economics. While at Harvard he participated in Harvard Political Review, Harvard Human Rights in North Korea, Institute of Politics, Harvard International Review, Citizenship Tutoring, Asian American Christian Fellowship. He made international news TWICE when questioning Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about Japan's inhumane treatment of Korean "Comfort Women" during World War II and challenging President Donald Trump's facts regarding U.S. support of South Korea. Joe is a scholar, activist, and much-needed irritant. He is also a connected global citizen; one only has to flip through his Facebook photos to find him with Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, and DJ Khalid. His next move is as Business Analyst at A.T. Kearney.
Author. CEO. Leader.
Taryn is a heart-centered leadership consultant, executive coach, keynote speaker, author, thought leader on business and human potential, and woman with a deep excitement to set this world on fire… one awakened heart at a time. Taryn is the founder and CEO of the Everyday Genius Institute, where she interviews the world’s best on how they do what they do and shares their strategies of genius with others. She has pioneered original research on genius, passion , and heart, and authored six books on strategies of genius. Even though she is lucky to get inside the minds of some extraordinary people, she is most passionate about helping everyday people and organizations step into the best version of themselves. Taryn works with CEOs, world leaders, and influential teams to make powerful, heart-centered transformations that bring them truly aligned and alive. She believes that Compassionate Corporations will transform this world for the better, and it is her delight to help them move far beyond the drive for profit to create whole new ways of measuring success and creating a world where genius thrives.
Lisa Roth Public Defender. Community Leader.
Lisa Roth has been a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles for the past 23 years and is given some of the City's highest-profile and most difficult cases, including 15 murder trials. She is currently working on a case in which the District Attorney is seeking the death penalty. Lisa is passionate about discussing the inequities embedded in our justice system and has years of experience working within this system. Lisa offers us a chance to discuss challenges such as bail bonds, overworked public defenders, mandatory minimum sentences, racial disparities, recidivism, punitive vs. restorative justice, re-entry programs, and overcrowding. Lisa has made the choice to do her best to make a change from within the system rather than chasing the money.
Cary Williams Athlete. Entrepreneur.
Cary is a former competitive boxer who is now an Olympic certified coach who grew a chain of boxing clubs in California. She has been featured in many national publications including being on the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers. She was also on the NBC show Fear Factor and is currently shooting for the A&E show called Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit. She created the Too Pretty brand which empowers girls and young women to be strong and independent. Encouraging them to participate in any sport or job even if it is male-dominated. The #nevertoopretty movement has begun! Cary has been a keynote speaker for Mayweather Promotions at the MGM in Las Vegas for Titans of the Trade breakfast and many more events.