January 11, 2023 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
This month marks 23 years since Evangeline (Van) Cornelius first started working at USC. The lifelong Columbia resident remembers being inspired by the impending turn of the century to take a leap of faith and apply for a program assistant position with the Institute for Families in Society. It was December of 1999 when Cornelius received a notification that she had been selected for the job.
“After that blessing, I have not looked back since,” she says. “Even though I was part of a reduction in force a couple of times, each time I was fortunate enough to be rehired.”
Van is the backbone of our organization and is always there to help resolve any challenges we come across. Her extensive knowledge and history with USC is critical to helping us do our work and achieve our goals, which combined with her kindness and level of commitment, makes her indispensable to our team.
-Julie Smithwick, director of the Center for Community Health Alignment
Cornelius spent nearly a decade with the Institute overall – transitioning to the Arnold School’s Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities in 2011. As a project coordinator and research assistant, she built on the administrative support skills she developed during her time at the Institute and at other local nonprofit and health organizations. Three years later, she would lend her knowledge and talents to support PASOs and the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies.
Now in her ninth year working with PASOs founder, Julie Smithwick, Cornelius is the business manager for the Arnold School’s Center for Community Health Alignment, which is home to PASOs, the Community Health Worker Institute, and Equity through Meaningful Engagement. Her daily work includes monitoring pre- and post-award funding, agreements, budget creation, invoicing, and grants/contracts compliance. She also leads the administrative team, providing guidance and support with all business operations (e.g., personnel management, facilities management, as well serving as liaison to university departments).
“Van is the backbone of our organization and is always there to help resolve any challenges we come across,” Smithwick says. “Her extensive knowledge and history with USC is critical to helping us do our work and achieve our goals, which combined with her kindness and level of commitment, makes her indispensable to our team.”
Cornelius’ favorite part of her job is the awesome groups of people she has had the opportunity to work with and learn from. Over the years, she has amassed too many memories at USC to choose a particular one.
“I really enjoyed learning and working in research and continuing in the human service arena,” she says. “Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling and being a foodie.”
The Staff Spotlight Series is sponsored by the Arnold School's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.