How love for the world created a globally minded graduate

May 16, 2018

Global Executive EdD graduate Michael McAlister credits his mom instilling curiosity

By Ross Brenneman

Michael McAlister with his mom, Sue Hoyt ’64

As the lines of students marched across USC for Commencement on Thursday, Sue Hoyt ’64 took her place among the Half-Century Trojans marching with them.

Hoyt hadn’t set foot on campus in more than two decades, but she took the opportunity this year knowing that, only a few yards away, her son, Michael McAlister would be joining her among the Trojan alum as a graduate from USC Rossier’s Global Executive EdD program.

In a family with Bruins, Mustangs and Cardinals, adding another Trojan was something of a small thrill for Hoyt, who graduated USC with a sociology degree.

“I have always been extremely proud to have graduated from USC, and now to share this amazing feeling of connection with him in this way is truly a gift,” Hoyt said.

McAlister maintains that he didn’t choose USC because of his mom’s affiliation, but he very much gives her credit for building in him a curiosity about the world that led him to pursuing a degree in global education.

“I remember walking into the Natural History Museum across Exposition and seeing this amazing skeleton of a tyrannosaurus rex, and my mom would always engage me in conversation about it,” McAlister said. “My parents were exceptional. They inspired a practice that still continues to this day.”

Years of his parents reading to him from National Geographic and time spent as an exchange student in Norway continued to stoke in him a fire to learn and participate in the world.

“Sitting in a classroom where I didn’t know the language, it changed me, and ever since that time I’ve looked to focus professionally on what it means to be a global citizen,” McAlister said.

While joining a Global EdD program that was “like nothing else in the country,” McAlister uses his own learning to help prepare globally minded students as principal at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, Calif.

“A global perspective is utterly necessary for anyone in education,” McAlister said. “Anyone in education has to understand what it means to be a participant in the world as much as what it means to be a participant locally. Both are key. The integration of localized thinking and global thinking is key to our evolution as a species.”

And so at Commencement, McAlister and Hoyt celebrated their journey together.

“My great pride in Michael, being able to support him in this way and having this special time with him means so much to me,” Hoyt said.

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