Joyce Berney P'10 and Scott S. Corbett '77 P'10

Scott and Joyce Berney Corbett
Alumnus and Parents

When Scott visited Occidental in high school, he met Rex Nelson, professor of physics, who was interested in the physics of music.  It’s part of what inspired Scott, now a biomedical device entrepreneur, to attend the College.

He was fascinated by the interdisciplinary approach of the liberal arts right from the start, and the emphasis on critical thinking and learning how to frame problems made a huge impact. His Oxy education parlayed into a master’s degree in acoustics and eventually a career in biomedical engineering, mostly medical ultrasound. 

From his days at Oxy playing the French horn and analyzing the tones of the pipe organ in Herrick Chapel for his senior thesis, music remains important to Scott, his wife Joyce (a family medicine physician) and their three children. Their daughter Rebecca followed in Scott’s footsteps and attended Oxy, where she pursued pre-med, majoring in biochemistry, and sang in the Glee Club. The family enjoys singing together, recording their parts remotely using an app to create virtual choir productions during the COVID pandemic. 

“Rebecca certainly loved her science experience at Oxy,” says Joyce. “She had great professors and often spoke fondly of Dr. Otsuki—’Dr. O.’ She also enjoyed doing research on succulents with one of her biology professors, Dr. North.” That research experience likely helped her gain admission into medical school. Joyce adds that like Scott, Rebecca’s music experience at Oxy was formative.

Scott and Joyce had been thinking for a long time about how they could give back to Oxy. When he recently sold a biomedical company he had co-founded, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to establish a scholarship fund. The couple wanted to provide others with the Oxy experience during a formative period in a young person’s life. 

“We live in an increasingly technical society,” Scott says. “And I thought, that combination of technical fluency and the liberal arts background is really a valuable asset—how can I help others have access to that?”

The couple’s generous scholarship fund includes an annual component that funds a student scholarship every year for five years as well as an endowment to support students in the future—particularly first-generation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students.

Based on his own experience and what he has seen in others, he started to understand just how valuable the liberal arts experience during one’s formative years can be. 

“It wasn't the technical education that was really what allowed me to succeed,” he says. “It was really this interdisciplinary orientation. In my case, I went on to be an entrepreneur. I founded several companies. I don't think I would have ever done that had I not had that initial liberal arts exposure.”