Why I am a Trojan: James Winter

James Winter is a graduate of the MAT-TESOL program and a proud alumnus of USC. Currently he lives in Sao Paulo, SP Brazil and is currently applying to doctoral programs.


Interestingly enough, this began with my grandfathers on both ends of my family. My grandfather Donald Winter was in WWII in the Navy and went to USC on his GI Bill. My grandfather, Melvin Brady was in the Army in the Korean Conflict and went to USC on his GI Bill and earned his MBA through USC’s Marshall Business School. My aunt Jeannie Ashworth went to USC’s dental hygienist program as well. Trojan blood was running in my veins long before I even realized what kind of a school it was or even where it was. I even remember asking my father who UCLA’s rival was and he said USC. It did not dawn on me that the schools were one in the same. I was young and naïve.

When I reached high school, I went to Troy High School in Fullerton, California, across the street from Cal State Fullerton. I just assumed that my grades would get me there and that would be my future. I had already started to follow USC’s football team with Rodney Peete. I started to follow USC football somewhat closely and went to see USC play against Oklahoma when I was young. It was my first USC game and I was already excited. We won that game, by the way, and I was hooked. I didn’t have the grades to go to USC. I knew that in order for me to go to USC, I would have to work hard in my undergrad years in order to have a chance.

During the nineties, the Trojans had some off years, but they had some excellent years as well. Brad Otton was the QB in 1995 and was throwing to #3 Keyshawn Johnson, and they beat Northwest University in the Rose Bowl that year. I was actually living in Brazil at the time, but I got a good update from my dad who let me know how it went. A few years later, Pete Carroll was hired as the head coach and it was a very controversial hire. Many people were not sure how things would shake out, and the following year was suspect at 6-6. After that, things improved and my interest started to grow as the Trojans improved. I wasn’t a fair weather fan; I was still learning about what it was to be a Trojan football fan.

My son Gabriel was born on January 4, 2005. For a while that was a red-letter day in Trojan history and USC beat Oklahoma 55-19; Gabriel was born during a Steve Smith touchdown in the second quarter. My daughter was born in 2006 during the Notre Dame weekend on November 26. If I needed any reminders, it was obvious that USC blood would continue to run within the family.

In 2009, I received my bachelor’s degree from Excelsior College. I then started to submit my application to USC for their graduate program. The process took me three years to complete. However, in 2012, I applied and beyond my wildest dreams, I was accepted into the Rossier Online master’s TESOL program. I was in! I achieved my goal! I am a Trojan for life! I feel though that being a Trojan takes upon itself a particular responsibility as well. I would be expected to excel. I have finished the program with a 3.93 GPA and am now in the process of applying to Johns Hopkins University for my doctoral program. I may be accepted by JHU, but I will be a proud Trojan alumnus for life.