Alumni Profiles

Doris Westcott '30

Doris of Troy In 1926, just before graduating from Fullerton High School in Orange County, Doris Tennant packed a trunk, ready to enroll at the University of California, Berkeley. She never made it.

One man – a “handsome, imposing, impressive man” – changed her mind. USC President Rufus von KleinSmid, keynote speaker at the Fullerton High commencement, made such a strong impression on the young lady that she went home that afternoon and informed her father: “I’m going to USC.”
“President von KleinSmid told us that we could be anything we wanted to be.
I had never heard that before,” she says. From that point on, through a bachelor’s degree in education in 1930, a 1935 wedding in the University Church to fellow Trojan Jack Westcott and a master’s degree in education in 1947, to her continuing support of student scholarships at USC, Doris Westcott has been Trojan to the core.

Doris (Tennant) Westcott as Helen of Troy in 1929.

Westcott is such a Trojan, in fact, that she was chosen in 1929 and 1930 as the first and second Helen of Troy by her classmates, selected to represent the university at all important social functions. For her debut as Helen at a grand show in Bovard Auditorium, she recalls needing a costume. “They took the green velvet draperies from Elizabeth von KleinSmid Residence Hall and made me a robe for the affair,” she remembers.
Now, more than 70 years later, Westcott is still an honored Trojan leader: She has created several student scholarships in the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, the USC Rossier School of Education and the Mexican American Alumni Association.
Putting President von KleinSmid’s words to the test, she also became one of the first WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) of World War II. As California’s first woman in stripes, she caused quite a stir during her five-year stint in the service, often posing for news photographs and even taking tea with Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House.

IN 1947, WESTCOTT left the Navy with the rank of commander and the honor of a presidential citation. Once again breaking new ground for women, she returned to Southern California to become the only female principal of a large area high school. At Compton High School, where she was an administrator for more than 25 years, she developed a lifelong passion for helping young people and making it possible for them to get the best education possible.
Westcott, now 93, takes a personal interest in the USC students for whom she has provided scholarships. Many of them have become “fine teachers” themselves, she says. She stays in touch with most of her scholarship recipients, encouraging them to teach at local schools.
Her relationships with these students, and watching them succeed, are the only reward she seeks. “I give because I’m so selfish,” says Westcott, smiling. “I give because it does so much for me.”



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