USC will translate the 2016 commencement ceremony in both Spanish and Chinese for the first time on May 13.
Translating commencement into any language besides sign language is not only a first for USC, it is a first for any university, according to the head of cultural relations and university events Adam Rosen.
Translations will be available in real-time through the USC commencement website. Guests will be able to read the translation on their mobile devices.
According to the USC University Marshal, John Callaghan, the translation will only be available for the main ceremony, not each individual school's ceremony.
In the future, Callaghan said, the university will translate more than two languages to accommodate the diverse international community. International students make up 23.8% of USC's undergraduate student body, coming from seventy-seven different countries.
The original idea to translate commencement came from junior Dan Li, an international student from China. During Li's high school graduation in Malibu, California, his parents, who only speak Chinese, did not understand any of the commencement speeches.
He imagined a subtitle-like system so family and friends of fellow international students could enjoy and understand the ceremony and speeches.
Li started to implement his plan through USC's Undergraduate Student Government, where he serves as a Residential Senator. The university worked with Li to create the translation website for commencement. Li will meet with the university on Thursday to finalize plans for the translation.
Li's parents will now be able to listen to his commencement in 2017 and understand more than just his name.