Trojan sisters endow scholarships to support teachers

By Andrea Bennett

James Yee, Candy Yee '68, MS '69, sister Patti Poon '65 and Dudley Poon at last year's Homecoming (USC Photo/Two Eleven Photography)

James Yee, Candy Yee ’68, MS ’69, sister Patti Poon ’65 and Dudley Poon at last year’s Homecoming
(USC Photo/Two Eleven Photography)

At any given Trojan athletic event, you’re likely to spot two petite sisters gleefully snapping photos, greeting athletes and coaches like old friends, and generally giving everything to support their alma mater.

But USC Rossier School of Education alumnae Patricia (Patti) Poon ’65 and Candace (Candy) Yee ’68, MS ’69 have a lot more in common than their fervor for USC sports. The Houston-bred sisters are both retired teachers who married engineers and each established endowed scholarships to support future teachers studying at USC Rossier.

“USC gave us the best education for teaching, and we were prepared when we entered the classroom,” said Yee, who with her husband endowed the James and Candace Chan Yee Endowed Scholarship. “I’m especially impressed with Rossier’s online master’s program, which is drawing great teachers from all over the country.”

Elder sister Poon, who spent 40 years as a math teacher before retiring as an elementary math coach, said the Dudley and Patricia Poon Endowed Scholarship was established to support the preparation of math and science teachers at USC Rossier.

“Students are our future,” Poon said. “We’re older so we don’t have any other expenses, but when you’re young, it’s very difficult. That’s why if there is any way you can help, you should support them.

The sisters want to support teachers because they experienced firsthand the sacrifices that great teachers make for their students.

“We would go to conferences on the weekends and see these teachers spending their own money for classes so they could do something new and exciting for their students,” Yee said. “They’re paying for their own teaching items and classes because giving to the kids is neverending. And elementary teachers give so much back to the little kids.”

Since their retirement, the sisters have given back to the Trojan Family in countless ways, donating to USC Athletics and the Trojan Marching Band, and they became regular volunteers at Heritage Hall.

The Poons and Yees are also fixtures at “Monday Morning Quarterback” and “Monday Morning Chalktalk” events, where they get insights from the coaches after the games and mingle with fellow diehard Trojans.

“Most of the time we’re here for all of the sporting activities,” said Poon, who said her family’s football fanaticism is rooted from their childhood in the South. “So we started volunteering at Heritage Hall, giving out candy and motherly advice to the athletes, and Candy started taking pictures and interviewing the athletes.”

That’s how Trojan Candy, Yee’s blog and “second profession,” got started.

She profiles athletes, covers games and posts photos and commentary with gusto. It isn’t uncommon to witness the tiny 67-year-old running backwards, camera in hand, to capture the players charging onto the field or the band marching down the street.

“It’s kind of an advantage to be so small,” Yee said with a chuckle. “I can go right up and get pictures.”

“I’m just living my dream now, to tell you the truth,” Yee said. “It’s invigorating!”

The sisters, who insist that they “bleed cardinal and gold,” said they will continue to be a regular presence, along with their husbands, at every USC athletic function they can attend for many more years to come.

“One advantage to being a Trojan is you always see your friends and make new friends, even at away games,” Yee said. “It’s just like a family. And when all of the memories come back, it’s just a feeling that you can’t lose.”

And they are thrilled they can support the Trojan family for generations through their endowed scholarships at USC Rossier.

“Our children must be educated and prepared to take over for us in the next generation and beyond, and teachers are the foundation for preparing our children to perform this responsibility,” Yee said.

“USC Rossier realizes its responsibility to produce excellent educators, and we are proud to support the school in this goal.”