President Steven B. Sample and Cindy McCain were recognized at the Rossier School of Education’s Centennial Gala Monday night for their contributions to global education.
McCain, who attended USC for her undergraduate degree in education and graduate degree in special education, was awarded the Dean’s Alumni Achievement Award.
“I’m so touched and so honored because never did I ever think I would be here at this stage in my life receiving an honor from this school,” she said.
McCain has led several humanitarian trips to improve the educational opportunities of children worldwide. During her time at USC, she volunteered for local special education programs.
“It was really a good time to be a part of it all,” she said of her experience and involvement in efforts to get federal funding for special needs children and provide them with proper educations.
“When you’re young, you don’t realize how it’s shaping you, what it’s doing for you and really how much you have gained from the experience of being here. Being able to look back on it now, it’s shaped certainly my attitude toward global involvement and doing what I do around the world,” McCain said.
McCain, who taught children with disabilities at an Arizona high school after her graduation, said she plans to return to teaching when things settle down.
“I miss it actually,” she said. “I’ll go back to teaching because I really enjoy it.”
The gala was part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the USC Rossier School of Education.
“It is fitting that during our centennial year, we pay tribute to two such committed educators,” Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher said in a statement. “Both Mrs. McCain’s and President Sample’s professional work and personal passion exemplify the USC Rossier School’s mission to improve educational outcomes locally, nationally and globally.”
At the gala, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) presented the Dean’s Alumni Achievement Award to his wife, whose Global Educator Fellowship will enable aspiring teachers and school educators to contribute to the education of youth on a global level.
“Someone will have the opportunity to do what I do,” Cindy McCain said. “The one thing that I have learned from all of this is that people to people and educator to educator around the world, when they see a U.S. educator coming, in some way it’s like everything is going to be so much better. We’re not the answer to everything, but we certainly are willing to give it our all and work hard for it.”
Sample was honored for transforming USC into a global university during his 19 years as its president and for his contributions to teaching and mentoring students throughout his career.
“In some ways, it gives me more credit than I deserve,” Sample said. “What I like about it is the whole academic community here at USC has been behind this globalization, both in the ways we teach and in the ways we do research. I’m honored, I’m humbled, I probably don’t deserve it, but I’ll take it.”
Sample’s Global Educator Fellowship will be offered to Rossier doctoral candidates for international study in Latin America and the Pacific Rim, where he co-founded the Association of Pacific Rim Universities for the advancement of international collaborative research.
“We get more international students now than any other American university, which I think is good for our domestic students,” Sample said. “It exposes them to different cultures and different peoples in a way that nothing else really can.”
Sample said he feels the entire university is strengthened by the advancements of the Rossier School under Dean Karen Symms Gallagher and benefits the Trojan family.
Along with the awards presented to Sample and McCain, the proceeds from the gala will go toward fellowships established in honor of both the award recipients. The fellowships will benefit future Rossier students.
“The gift of education is a gift of life,” McCain said.