Renee Almassizadeh – Program Specialist in the Department for Middle East Studies

Renee Almassizadeh is the Program Specialist in the Department of Middle East Studies, and has been an incredible contributor to our Culture Journey. We asked her a few questions about our unifying value “Excellence”. Take a look at what she had to say. 

  1. What made you want to be part of the Culture Network?  

I have a strong orientation toward service and my culture-based work at USC really began when I joined Staff Assembly in 2017. That allowed me to listen, to learn, and to advocate for staff needs. It was through this process that my passion for organizational culture, values-based work, DEI, and well-being developed. It was this desire to contribute to our shared values and culture that led me to serve on the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and later on the President’s Culture Commission. When the opportunity arrived to be part of a group involved with understanding, enacting, and facilitating dialogue around USC’s future culture came up I was thrilled to join the team. This has been one of the most gratifying parts of my experience at USC thus far. 

2. This month we are highlighting the unifying value “Excellence”. What does that value mean to you?  

Excellence to me means that every USC employee and student can bring their authentic selves to work/school and pursue their passions to bring betterment to society. Excellence is each member of our community highly engaged in their work and being supported and pushed to grow and contribute as individuals and to further USC’s mission. Excellence is diversity, equity, and inclusion and valuing every single individual in our organization, our community, our country, and the world.  

3. What do you think are some practical ways we can engage this value as individuals, and as a community?  

Excellence requires that we hold ourselves and others accountable to living our personal and unifying values in a respectful and open-minded fashion. It requires acceptance that failure is a part of growth and perfection is not our goal. In fact, continuous improvement, iteration, and seeking knowledge is our path to excellence. Excellence requires asking for help, collaborating, and being open to others’ ideas, engagement, beliefs, and skills. 

4. “Excellence” has always been a priority at USC, but now that it is solidified in the context of our other unifying values (DEI, Well-being, Integrity, Open Communication, Accountability) what gets you excited about how we can live out here at USC?  

We tend to think about excellence in how we are lauded by others and recognized for our accomplishments. Excellence, to me, is the by-product of truly living the other five unifying values. We cannot reach excellence without prioritizing DEI, well-being, integrity, open communication, and accountability. As I approach my work in serving students, faculty, and staff across USC, I am intentionally keeping these values close to my mind and heart to ensure that each interaction I engage in models and supports others in living out our values. I’m excited to see all that we can achieve as individuals and as an organization when we focus our energies this way.