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USC valedictorian barred from graduation speech: 'The university has betrayed me'

Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

“I’m not ignorant of who I am or what I believe in and the time we are in or the place we are in,” she said. “I am not ignorant of the context or environment, at the end of the day.”

Tabussam, who minored in “resistance to genocide,” suggested her opponents were mistaken about her views and her studies.

The program, an official minor at USC, requires students to enroll in five courses from a list that includes several on the Holocaust as well as on the Armenian genocide and other genocides, such as targeted killings of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.

Tabussam said she “studied the Holocaust extensively in multiple classes” but “did not take a class exclusively on the Holocaust.”

She tied the minor to her major in biomedical engineering.


“I see my work as using health technologies that could preserve access to health for all people who have been subjugated to evil. That includes, at its most extreme, genocide,” Tabussam said.

She said she is interested in going to graduate school but, for now, is focused on her final exams the first week of May.

She declined to say whether she will still attend the graduation ceremony.

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