During football’s offseason, it is not extremely uncommon to see players trading in their football pads for notepads as they work to finish their degree. What is uncommon, however, is that degree is a Ph.D. in mathematics.
For Baltimore Ravens guard John Urschel, that’s exactly the case. Not only is he currently getting his Ph.D. in mathematics, he’s doing it at one of the best schools in the world: MIT. Having graduated from Penn State, Urschel always had a goal to receive his Ph.D. from an Ivy League school, and that is exactly what he is now achieving.
According to the Ravens player, he isn’t only doing it for himself—he is also doing it as a role model for the next generation of children who look up to athletes as role models. With so many young people in today’s society shying away from STEM education, athletes like Urschel are important.
While he is afraid of receiving too much attention for his exact work, it will be based on spectral graph theory, machine learning, and numerical linear algebra if his current Ph.D. student profile from MIT is anything to go by.
John Urschel commented that if he had not chosen to play in the NFL, he would currently be in his final semester as a Ph.D. student. While he is afraid of receiving too much attention for his exact work, the inspiring story of a high profile athlete choosing to continue his education and pursue his love for mathematics is something that should not go unnoticed.
So the next time your child dreams of being in the NFL, just let them know that being a football player doesn’t mean you can’t excel academically as well. If anything, John Urschel is proving that right now.