|Rookie safety Myron Rolle wants to become a neurosurgeon after what he hopes will be a long NFL career.|
"It was a multi-faceted decision," Rolle said. "One, it had been a dream to be a Rhodes Scholar, go to Oxford University and be mentioned among some of the most brilliant people in the world who are leaders and changers. I found a social injustice and found ways to either reverse it or help change it, so that was an amazing opportunity.
"The second reason — and I think it is equally as important as the first reason — is that it can set me as a role model for younger kids — boys, girls, football, non-football — to seek excellence academically but also know you can be a true student-athlete and really reach the pinnacle of all of your activities. That is something that I really cherish."
Rolle's decision to pursue the Rhodes Scholarship took priority over football one other time during his playing days at Florida State University when he had to be in Alabama for a required interview on Nov. 22, 2008. The interview was scheduled for 12:50 p.m. Central Time. The same day, his Seminoles were slated to play the University of Maryland in ACC conference play, so Rolle cleared it with the NCAA so that he could get a private plane to fly him to Maryland and join his teammates after his interview. The interview took 20 minutes, he proceeded to wait around for two or three hours and then was informed that he had been awarded the scholarship.
After taking a few minutes to call his family and thank the Lord, he boarded the private plane, flew to Maryland and ended up getting to the game at the end of the first half. The caused Rolle to miss his only start in his last 36 collegiate football games. Fortunately, the Seminoles had the game securely in hand and ended up winning 37-3.
"It was just a great day," Rolle said. "Florida State won our football game and I was able to achieve the Rhodes Scholarship."
Rolle holds no regrets about his decision. The opportunity to pursue another dream of his was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and he felt he would be able to take a year off and still be able to achieve further athletic accomplishments when his time in Oxford was over.
"I loved it," Rolle said. "I had a great time, had an opportunity to travel — had access to a lot of European countries and I met a lot of wonderful people. The Sheldonian Theatre is a physical space on the campus of Oxford where guest speakers come in and speak all the time, and I heard Sandra Day O'Connor. That was quite an honor. It was just an amazing opportunity; I met some incredible people and really loved my time there. I would encourage anyone of college age to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship if that is a possibility."
While in Europe, Rolle took advantage of the opportunity to travel and visit various other countries. While he enjoyed all of his travels, there are a few that stood out more than the rest.
"I really enjoy the Czech Republic and Prague, that was outstanding," Rolle said. "I also went to Málaga, Spain and different spots of Spain. I speak a little bit of Spanish so I was able to get along quite well there, but it was just fascinating to see so many different cultures so close. It's almost like state-to-state but you see different languages, different religions, different architecture and different geography — it was all very fascinating."
When asked what the most rewarding aspect of his time at Oxford was, Rolle did not hesitate. "The best thing about my time at Oxford University was probably the relationships that I made."
More specifically, he has developed a strong friendship with a fellow Rhodes Scholar, Aisha Saad. She is a practicing Muslim from Egypt who attended school at North Carolina. "We had breakfast every Friday and sometimes we would meet twice a week, but we have these weekly conversations because we had so many interests that brought us together — philanthropic interests, human rights interests, but we were so different from our backgrounds. She's a Muslim, I'm a Christian; she's from Egypt, I'm from the Bahamas; I play football, she runs for fun…there are just so many different things in our life but we had that commonality that brought us together and we are going to be friends for the rest of our lives because of that experience at Oxford."
With all of the positives that Rolle experienced while in England, his time there was not without some adjustment periods, the biggest of which directly affected his training and ability to stay in peak shape for his workouts for NFL scouts when he returned to the United States.
"Certainly there were some things that took some getting used to; the food was a lot different. I lost about eight pounds that first week that I was there because I either didn't eat the food or the food just wouldn't stay in my system. The one thing that was certainly different was training for the Senior Bowl and the Combine in the fall. It was 30 degrees outside, and the morning was the only time I could really practice so that made it really difficult to get my legs warm and start running. Those two things were probably the hardest things to overcome while trying to pursue my goals athletically."
One of the reasons Rolle was so interested in pursuing the Rhodes Scholarship was because of his desire to be a neurosurgeon when his football playing days are over. Being a Rhodes Scholar should prove to be very helpful when it's time to get into medical school, as will his time studying at the prestigious Oxford University.
His aspiration to become a neurosurgeon is something he found a passion for at a young age.
"I read a book in fifth grade called *Gifted Hands *by Ben Carson who is a pediatric neurosurgeon from John Hopkins," Rolle said. "(He) is a black man who came from a modest background, had a very strong parental influence in his life — in his childhood especially. So, I found a lot of parallels between his life and my life, so I said, 'If he can be the leading neurosurgeon in the world, why can't I be?' I started to study about the brain and the neural system, started studying about the spine and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was really interesting and fascinating and thought it was a career that I would enjoy whether I made a lot of money or not."
"Medical school is the next step," Rolle said. "I'm not sure which school yet. Obviously, Florida State wants me to go there, but that is down the road. Hopefully, I will have a long football career and then get in there. Medical school, then residency and then I can be a practicing neurosurgeon."
Despite Rolle's busy schedule and commitment to both athletic and academic excellence, he still finds time to give back to the community. In 2009, he launched the Myron Rolle Foundation (www.myronrolle.com) to work with underserved, underprivileged populations domestically and internationally to provide good, quality healthcare, healthcare education, as well as wellness and leadership training.
"We have three projects housed under this foundation.," Rolle said. "One is a childhood diabetes and obesity program for Native Americans. We started the pilot program in Seminole County, Florida and then the U.S. Department of Interior adopted a program, put federal money to it and placed it to the Pueblo, Navajo and Hopi Indians in the Southwest USA fighting childhood diabetes and obesity.
"The next project that we do is wellness and leadership academy for foster kids in the state of Florida. We just had it about three weeks ago. 110 foster kids come to Jacksonville, Fla. and we spend five days with them talking about wellness, leadership, nutrition and being strong character individuals and future leaders of tomorrow.
"The last thing that we do in my foundation is building a health clinic in Exuma, Bahamas — where my grandparents are from. I've always wanted to provide good healthcare to my home country and this is a way for me to do it."
While this is just the beginning of Rolle's NFL career, it's not the beginning of his accomplishments, nor is it the end of his lofty goals and expectations for himself. For Rolle, while he is realizing one dream now, he still has many more dreams to accomplish in the future.