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Burcin Becerik-Gerber was 22 years old when a catastrophic earthquake hit Turkey in 1999. Though she emerged from the 7.6 magnitude quake unharmed, the disaster killed over 17,000, including a number of Gerber's own friends.

That tragedy never left Gerber. As she went on to earn a master's degree in construction engineering and management at UC Berkeley and her doctorate in information systems at Harvard, she always knew she'd use her education as a vehicle to help those suffering through tragedies of their own.

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William Cunningham's voice is calm and patient over the phone. That sense of serenity will serve him well in the coming years as he helms the effort to digitize tens of thousands of artifacts, books and photographs, some nearly 3,000 years old, from USC's collections of Mesoamerica as well as those at California State University Los Angeles.

Cunningham, a digital imaging specialist at the University of Southern California Libraries Digital Library, will be responsible manning the camera and rig to capture a sprawling collection of artifacts and rare books such as recreations of Aztec codices copied directly from the original sources and a 16th-century edition of the "Cronica Mexicana" by Hernando de Alvarado Tezozómoc, a writer and direct descendant of Aztec emperors.

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Rachel Miller, founder and CEO of Closegap, has always been interested in helping kids who did not win the "birth lottery," as she calls it.

She is one of them.

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