Epstein Family Alumni Center
3607 Trousdale Parkway, TCC 305
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3106
USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association
MELODY NISHIDA '78
By Jasmine Ako
Many Trojans give back to USC after graduation, but none perhaps as extensively as Melody Nishida ‘78. Shortly after her graduation from USC with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she joined what was previously known as the USC Alumni Club of West Los Angeles. She held a position as treasurer and later assumed the role of president, her first main USC alumni leadership role.
That position would be the first of many leadership roles for Nishida, with USC as a common thread throughout. Fast-forward several decades, and she has served in a university board or governance capacity in everything from athletics to medicine to the Asian Pacific alumni community. While by day she serves as a partner alongside her nephew at Crenshaw Business Service, her family’s accounting firm, she has dedicated much of her time to her undergraduate alma mater.
With a smile, Nishida explains that many of these roles were ones she stumbled into. For example, she took on roles with the Trojan Guild of Los Angeles, a women’s group that raises money for Trojan scholarships, and the Spirit of Troy Marching Band, what we all know as the lifeblood of USC spirit, after being introduced by good friends. Eventually, she became president of the guild and board director for the marching band.
Helping Advance USC’s Strategic Goals
Today, Nishida serves as chair of the USC Alumni Association Alumni Club Regional Board of LA, a role that she says has “brought her back full circle” in reference to her first alumna role out of college. The board, which is comprised of representatives from the five Los Angeles alumni regional clubs, the Society of Trojan Women, the Second Decade Society, and the Asian Pacific Alumni Association, works to engage alumni throughout the local Los Angeles area, move forward the Alumni Association’s goals and priorities for each year, and find ways to enhance collaboration and support across organizations.
“It’s a great place to discuss your ideas and your issues,” says Nishida. “These groups have good recommendations for each other, and they’re collaborative in supporting each others’ events.”
As a former board of governor for the Alumni Association, chairman of the Alumnae Coordinating Council, board counselor of the Athletic Department, and board member of the USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association - to name just several prior commitments - Nishida brings a multifaceted perspective of the university to the table.
Currently, Nishida says there is a collected effort to focus on the Campaign for USC, a multi-year effort to expand USC’s community and global impact by investing in faculty, scholarships, academic programs, and capital projects. “Every area of the university and everyone’s interests is focused on the capital campaign,” says Nishida.
Supporting Women’s Causes
Aside from helping to advance the university’s strategic goals, Nishida is also a strong supporter of women’s issues. As co-chair of the USC Women’s Conference this year, Nishida is leading the effort to bring together female leaders and women from all backgrounds for a day of empowerment and professional networking. “The women’s conference has really grown and evolved,” she says, also noting that the conference is now in its sixth year. A worthy female role model herself, Nishida received the Remarkable Women Award from the USC Division of Student Affairs in 2013.
Outside of USC, she has served as President of the Girl Scout Council supporting all the different troops and volunteers and providing networking and training opportunities. She was also a former board member and is a current sustainer of the Junior League of Los Angeles, a women’s organization dedicated to improving communities through volunteerism.
Through these positions, she not only worked to advance women’s causes, but also garnered close friendships in the process.
“I’ve made so many good friends and learned a lot. I’m really grateful for that,” she says. In her spare time, she particularly enjoys getting together with her friends, many of which she’s met through her involvement as an alum.
Nishida’s extensive contributions to USC and also in the broader community illustrate that being a Trojan extends far beyond commencement day. For alums young and old interested in giving back
to the university, there are many avenues to get involved depending on individual interests and levels of time commitment.
“There are different levels of involvement, from being a member, to holding leadership roles,” says Nishida. “What’s great about the Alumni Association is that it creates paths and opportunities so everyone is as involved as they want to be, depending on what their interests are.”
After all that she’s done for USC, it’s clear from the sparkle in her eye that Nishida remains very passionate about giving back to her alma mater.
“Each of them has brought something different to the table,” she says, reflecting on the various roles she has held as a USC alumna. “Through the time that I’ve given, you do get a lot back.”