Dr. Trista Beard, NTSAF Director

Dr. Beard’s responsibilities include program design and vision, long-term strategic planning with the Board, building partnerships to empower students, and promoting the Fund across USC, across Los Angeles, and nationally, as a unique model of a student-funded, student-governed scholarship opportunity. Dr. Beard is a first-generation college student from a working class rural town. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Rochester, a Master’s from Simmons College in Boston, and her Doctorate in Education from USC. After teaching English in Japan, she began working at USC in study abroad programs where she became an expert on global learning and international programs. Her research interests in higher education focus on first-generation college students, social capital exchange, persistence, and the development of success models.

Carina Gonzalez, Advisor

Carina is proud to work with the resilient and talented Topping Scholars & Fellows. Her advising style consists of  holistic and strengths based advising. As a first-generation college student, she understands the importance of having a support system and mentors in order to be successful in college. Carina earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminology from the University of La Verne and her Master of Education in Educational Counseling from the University of Southern California. Her mission in life has always been to help others and make a positive change in someone’s life. It is this mission that drives Carina’s passion for helping students to succeed in achieving their academic and career goals. Her experience in higher education includes student advising, leadership development, programming, and teaching a values course. 

Christopher McMorran, Governing Board Chair 2020-2021

Christopher McMorran is a current senior at USC pursuing dual degrees in Film and Television Production and Political Science. Growing up in a small Oregon logging town as the son of an agricultural inspector and an ESOL teacher, Christopher was exposed early on to the importance of a supportive, tight-knit community – and the importance of service to that community. He’s advocated for public K-12 education and access to  Oregon’s State Legislature, Department of Education, and Governor, and has continued his passion for advocacy at USC by serving as a USG Advocacy Director and Senator. He’s advocated to the California State Senate about the rights of sexual assault victims, supported USC’s housing and hospitality worker’s union in their fight for a fair contract, and has implemented programs to ensure academic equity for transfer students, greater access to public transportation, and improved experience for first-year students.

Alanis Gonzalez, Program Coordinator

Alanis Gonzalez is a current graduate student at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. She earned her B.A. in Sociology & Chicanx/ Latinx Studies from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and proudly identifies as a first-generation college student. Using her experiences and involvement within the TRIO Upward Bound Program, Alanis makes an effort to work with underserved communities in the pursuit of higher education and be a catalyst of change. As a program coordinator for the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund, Alanis has manifested meaningful relationships with not only her colleagues, but with Scholars/Fellows as well. Alanis is passionate about serving others, lifting others up as she continues in her path, and continuing to break institutional barriers for generations to come. “Life is like a ball game. You’re always expecting the pitcher to throw a fast ball, but every once in a while, you’ve gotta adjust to a curve.”  

Mariana Branicio, Student Office Assistant

Mariana Branicio is a junior majoring in Business Administration with a double minor in Communication Design and Web Technologies and Applications. She is the daughter of first generation immigrants, who was born in Brazil, and raised in Brazil and in Singapore. She is currently a member of USC’s Trojan Marketing Group, Fashion Industry Association, and Bloom Boutique, a resale boutique that donates all proceeds to local shelters. After graduating from USC, she hopes to pursue a career in marketing consulting for NGOs and nonprofits.