Family Bleeds Torero Blue

Members of the Levine family gather at the University of San Diego campus for a family wedding


With a closet full of USD gear and the ability to dress in head-to-toe Torero attire, Mary Levine is wholeheartedly devoted to the University of San Diego.

A Torero parent times four, Levine has watched as her children — Michael ‘12 (BA), ‘15 (JD/LLM); twins Madison ‘13 (BA), ’16 (JD) and Aimee ‘13 (BBA); and Jordan ‘21 (BA) — have made their own mark on the campus community. From attending Michael’s Torero football games or Madison’s cross-country tournaments, to experiencing a family wedding in Founders Chapel, the Levines are the true embodiment of a USD family.

As the outgoing president of the Parents Association Board in the Office of Parent and Family Relations, Levine has been a constant presence in the organization for the past 10 years. In that time, she has not only watched her children grow, but has also witnessed how the university has changed by adapting to new challenges, taken on new opportunities, and above all else, furthered its commitment to student access to higher education.

Along with her husband, Ira, Levine has been an ardent supporter of the university, beginning with their son Michael’s first year and his involvement on the football team. “We just got into the school spirit,” says Levine. “I would go to all the home games and my husband would fly to all of the away games. It just became a part of our life. It became part of us — we’re Toreros.”

For Levine, who joined the board a year and a half into Michael’s undergraduate experience, serving has given her the opportunity to see “behind the scenes” at the university. “It gives you a look into how the university works and how it really does live by its mission,” says Levine. “They walk the walk.”

An important component of this is the student support Levine witnessed. “It gave me such insight into the tight knit community,” she says. “This school, where you are leaving your student, is such a special place. Just be confident in the fact that USD has your student’s success in mind — in their life, in their career and in being good human beings. When we dropped Michael off, I was so nervous. But when we dropped Jordan off, I was like, ‘You go, you’ve got this, I know where you are, I know the people around you. You just go and be successful.’ There was never any question that he wouldn’t be supported and taken care of. It’s been great.”

USD’s care for its students has translated into Levine’s own work on the Parent Board. From the board’s work supporting the USD Food Pantry and Torero Closet to the collaboration with the Career Development Center in developing internship opportunities for students, Levine has seen it as her mission to help create a nurturing environment for all of the university’s students. One of the initiatives supported by the board is the Parent Partnership Fund, a fund established to help students who are experiencing unexpected financial difficulties. Seeing the direct impact she can have on students has made all the difference for Levine.

“When we raise funds, we get videos or letters from students we have helped. And when you get the thank you letters or you see how it changed their life, I’m choking up just thinking about it,” says Levine. “It’s so touching that you can make a difference in something that for these kids is such a big deal. It is so rewarding and when you get that feedback you just want to go out and ask what more can we do?”

This desire to support stems from Levine’s appreciation for what the university has done for her family. “The school gave the kids an opportunity to find their way and what they’re good at. Every one of them is happy where their path is, and every one of them had just the best experience at USD. What USD has given to our family is priceless,” she says. “I never thought four of my kids would end up at USD, [but] now it’s a home away from home.”

So for Levine, as her son Jordan enters his final year at USD, she’s made it clear that her support for the university won’t end with his graduation. Just as her children have been given the opportunity to pave their own paths, Levine plans to keep giving other students the opportunity to do the same.

“They’re part of campus and therefore we take care of them,” says Levine. “You want to see everyone being loved, supported and taken care of. We can do that through the Parent Board. We can help. It’s very rewarding.”

She adds, “I think it’s the best part of being on the board, seeing that we really do make a difference. It’s a group effort.”

For Levine, being involved in campus philanthropic efforts is really just an extension of her role as a parent. Through her work, she’s helping to ensure other students have the resources to not only succeed, but to pave their own path after college. And after all, isn’t that what being a parent is all about? Providing the next generation with the resources they need to thrive.

“We’re not done helping,” she says. “Once a Torero, always a Torero. I will forever be one of the biggest supporters of USD because what they have given to our family is just so amazing.”

And Levine expects that she’ll continue to be a fixture on campus. “I’ll hang out until I’m asked to leave,” she says with a laugh. — Allyson Meyer ‘16 (BA), ‘21 (MBA)

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