A lot of attention is being paid to a new pro football recruit who just got drafted by the Tennessee Titans. Myron Rolle graduated from Florida State in two and a half years with a 3.75 GPA. While he showed true talent on the football field, and recently became a sixth-round draft pick, it's the athlete's academic prowess that is also winning him praise.
Rolle belongs to a very elite group, especially for African Americans. He's a Rhodes Scholar -- an intellectual standout who has performed at the highest academic level.
Rolle's dream is to practice medicine. He was so devoted to this goal that he spent the 2009 football season studying overseas. (The handful of young men and women selected each year to become Rhodes Scholars receive a scholarship to go to England and study at Oxford University).
After that decision, lots of people questioned which was his first love: football or medicine. They made it seem as if he must choose. Some suggested that by hitting the books he isn't as committed to the game. He's even been asked what it felt like to have "deserted" his football teammates. Apparently, though, Rolle doesn't see it that way:
"That's been a popular question that I've received here," Rolle said in an interview. "My answer to them, which is a genuine and truthful answer, is that I think my pursuits academically have helped me in football. You learn discipline, you learn time management, you learn structure, you learn organization and as a football player those are obviously valuable assets and traits you can use to be great whether in film studies or on the field. I tell them I want to transform all of the positive traits I've learned in the classroom by the pinnacle of academic achievement, the Rhodes scholarship, and become an even better football player by it.''
Black Rhodes Scholars
Rolle likely recognizes the significance of being a Rhodes Scholar.
The first African American Rhodes Scholar was Alain LeRoy Locke from Harvard University, who was accepted in 1907. It would take more than 50 years to see another black, John E. Wideman, admitted to the program in 1963.
Many Rhodes Scholars have gone on to notable and distinguished careers, especially in politics. For example, Bill Clinton (who has jokingly been referred to as America's first black president) was a Rhodes Scholar.
No matter their ultimate career path, however, it's clear that those with the Rhodes pedigree can boost their overall standing, professional status and likely their incomes, too.
Think about this fact: The average college graduate already earns 62 percent more annually than the average high school graduate. Over a lifetime, that translates into a $1 million earnings gap. The pay gap widens further among high school grads and those who earned advanced college degrees. So I'd be curious to know the economic "value" of being a Rhodes Scholar. What kind of additional financial payoff is likely?
Maybe Rolle will follow in the footsteps of another famous black Rhodes Scholar: Randal Pinkett. Many people know him as the first African American winner of 'The Apprentice' with Donald Trump. Randal also happens to be quite an accomplished businessman in his own right. To what does he credits his success? Faith, family and a combination of "street smarts and book smarts."
Seems Rolle is taking the same road. Good luck with that.