Paying it forward

Dean Karen Symms Gallagher and Professor Pat Gallagher invest in USC Rossier students.

By Stephen Lucasi Published on

When Karen Beatty and Pat Gallagher met as undergrads at their work‐study jobs at Western Washington University, nei­ther aspired to be an educator. Karen, now the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of USC Rossier, wanted to be a lawyer, while Pat, now a professor of clinical education, was majoring in physical sciences and biology.

“There are always those people who know from childhood that they want to be teachers,” Karen says. “But there are many others like us who don’t start pursuing a teaching career until their late 20s or early 30s, when they also face a greater burden in financing their education.”

Karen, who was first in her family to attend college, and Pat recognize the important role scholarship support played in allowing them to pursue careers in education. It helped them immerse themselves in their studies and move into a new field without amassing huge debt. So, when they started giving back to Western Washington, they designated their gifts to scholar­ships for students who, like themselves, were transitioning from their first careers to pursuing their passion for teaching.

The Gallaghers also have been giving quietly and generously to support scholarships at USC Rossier, inspired by the talent, diversity and great potential of the students. “I have yet to meet a student who is going into teacher edu­cation without a strong commitment to being here,” says Pat. “They are smart, articulate, eager, excited to be in the program, and they’re going to be really terrific teachers.”

This commitment can be found among students across all Rossier programs.

“They want to be leaders,” adds Karen. “And they want to make a real difference.”

Karen Symms Gallagher and Pat Gallagher. Photo by Margaret Molloy
Karen Symms Gallagher and Pat Gallagher. Photo by Margaret Molloy

Toni Richardson is one of many Rossier scholarship recip­ients who is guided by a desire to help students achieve and succeed. A second‐year student in the Postsecondary Admin­istration and Student Affairs program, Richardson works as a success coach at Pasadena City College, where she provides mentorship and guidance to student athletes, monitors their academic progress and helps them familiarize themselves with resources available on campus and beyond. It’s all part of what she calls a “will to serve” that she shares with many of her Rossi­er classmates. “I want to be a dean of student affairs someday,” she says. “But my motivation is not financial. It’s because I want to be of service to people seeking an education.”

After two years of teaching in Boston and Los Angeles, Jake Roth, an incoming Master of Arts in Teaching student, has come to Rossier to improve his craft and learn the tools of a master teacher.

To Roth, this training is the most tangible way for him to help reduce educational inequities and turn around struggling urban schools like the ones he attended and taught in. “My goal is to be a staple in an urban school,” he says. “I want to really make an impact in one setting, where I can be consistent, become a part of the community, and really see students grow.”

It is this same opportunity to see future educators learn, grow and impact their communities that has inspired the Gallaghers to invest in scholarships for Rossier students. “We like to know that our giving is making a difference,” Karen says. “As educators, we get to touch the future through the people that we prepare at Rossier. And they go off and extend Rossier’s vision to the community and to the world.”

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