USC spirit leader inspires with her patriotism, Trojan pride

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When the USC and UCLA football teams clash at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, someone whose patriotism is as inspiring as her Trojan pride will be on the sidelines.

Erdavria "Rose" Simpson is a spirit leader at USC.

"I grew up in this area, in this community. I grew up looking at USC," she said in an interview this week, in between final rehearsals before the big game. "And it's just always been a goal to get here."

Before she put on the USC spirit uniform, she wore the uniform of an intelligence specialist with the United States Navy Reserve. During her service, she got to know Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is also a naval reservist, and learned about USC's Master of Business for Veterans program.

She enrolled, earned her master's degree, and found even more inspiration while attending a football game.

"I saw these spirit leaders out on the field, and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, I want do that," Simpson recalled.

There had never been a graduate student on the spirit squad before, but the former Girl Scout and service member applied anyway and earned a spot on the team.

Simpson is now pursuing a second master's degree. At 26, she is the oldest Trojan spirit leader and the only military service member to ever join the team.

"When I put on this uniform, when I put on the U.S. Navy uniform," she said, "I want to make sure that I'm being my best person, I'm putting my best foot forward."

Watch the UCLA-USC football game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC7.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.