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Trojans, far from their families, spend Holiday at the USC President’s house

January 9, 2017 10:17 pm

The Holidays are a time to gather with the people you care about and celebrate another year. The American Thanksgiving holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, and is held in the United States on the fourth Thursday every November.

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Lillia Spanyi, left, and Precious Nwaoha share a Thanksgiving Day hug before heading to the USC president’s house for a special holiday dinner. (USC Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

For USC sophomore Lilla Spanyi who was born in Budapest, Hungary, the Thanksgiving holiday is very special because it is an American holiday.

“My family doesn’t actually celebrate Thanksgiving, but I am in a weird position where I consider myself American because of the culture and the people, and I can’t really imagine a future for myself anywhere else,” said Spanyi, a Trustee Scholar and member of the Trojan Marching Band Silks. “That is why Thanksgiving has always been a holiday I wanted to celebrate, but didn’t have the opportunity until I came to USC.”

Niki C. Nikias, wife of USC President C.L. Max Nikias, hosted Thanksgiving dinner for more than 300 USC students. The annual dinner at the USC president’s home brings together Trojans can not spend the holiday with their families.

Being away from family on Thanksgiving can be hard for students like USC junior Alexis Brady, whose Thanksgiving back home in Maryville, Tenn., included cooking traditional dishes, watching movies, and playing dominoes and spades with up to 30 family members.

“It gets pretty crazy, which I love,” she said.

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Alexis Brady helps herself to the Thanksgiving feast. (USC Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

Brady is a USC women’s rugby player and soprano in USC’s Saved By Grace Gospel Choir and said she’s grateful to have had the opportunity to share Thanksgiving with the Nikias family every year since she arrived at USC.

“It’s really expensive to fly home,” she said. “So it’s really great that USC does this for the students who can’t go home for the holiday.”


This Trojan tradition is an example of what it means to be a part of the Trojan family for Spanyi and others.

“Being part of the Trojan Family means being part of a community where people care about you and your well-being, and wherever you go in the world, you will have people to reach out to and people who care about you, for the rest of your life,” Spanyi said. “It is something I will never take for granted.”


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Some 300 students enjoyed a holiday feast with all the trimmings. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

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Lillia Spanyi, C. L. Max Nikias and Alexis Brady display the traditional USC Thanksgiving salute. (USC Photo/Michael Owen Baker)