Salutatorian Andrew Binder continues acts of service beyond USC> News> USC Dornsife

The graduating senior is taking his USC Dornsife degree in philosophy, politics and law and heading into the Marines.

Andrew Binder is one of USC’s 2022 salutatorians. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Binder.)

With only two weeks until graduation, while most USC seniors were studying for finals in and around the University Park Campus, Andrew Binder was making his way along the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Quantico, Virginia, for some Marine Corps training.

Binder understands this is not the typical experience of a college senior just before graduation, but given his path to USC, “typical” probably wasn’t in the cards. Regardless of the track that brought this East Coaster to sunny Southern California, the result speaks for itself: Binder earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics and law from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and was named one of the salutatorians for the Class of 2022.

“I graduated and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marines, and the journey to get there was very challenging,” Binder says. “I’m extraordinarily grateful for the people who helped along the way, because there’s no way I would have gotten to graduation and commissioning and through all of these different experiences without the help of my mentors, my family, my friends, my professors and the people who kept the university running before COVID and during the pandemic. ”

Growing up in the small town of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Binder had never really heard or thought about USC until his senior year in high school, but when a classmate was accepted there, he looked into the school, particularly because he felt it would fit his interest in political science.

“I would not say I grew up in a family that was very involved in politics, but I would say that politics was involved in my family,” Binder said. “My family is Jewish, and pretty much all of my family members fled from anti-Semitic violence.”

One side of Binder’s family fled Russia in the early 20th century, and the other side fled Europe during World War II before relocating to Colombia, where they had to flee another oppressive regime.

Upon his arrival at USC Dornsife, Binder threw himself into several organizations. He joined the ROTC program and the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Veterans Legal Services Project, where he helped unhoused veterans who were experiencing legal troubles.

“It was my job to read through 800 pages of California code and find a way to assist them because these were sort of cases that weren’t important enough to be assigned a public defender,” Binder said.

He later became active with USC Dornsife’s Center for the Political Future, VoteSC, Trojan Democrats (where he eventually became president of the organization) and The Civics Center, a nonprofit that helps high school seniors register to vote as they turn 18. Binder and his team sent out roughly 100,000 voter registration postcards to students across the country ahead of the 2020 elections.

Binder will be in the Marines for at least the next four years, but beyond that, he just hopes to bring the attitude of “neighbors helping neighbors” to everything he does.

“My goal with the Marines is to make the most of it and to be as helpful as possible in service to the nation,” Binder said. “Past that, I have an idea of ​​what I want to do, but I’ll be just as happy wherever they need me the most – hopefully law school, but still a lifelong commitment to community service.”

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