As an academic institution Florida State's reputation has taken a hit recently. With the academic scandal within the athletic department, along with the continued battle with the University of Florida and University of Miami to be the top college in the state, FSU has had a lot to overcome when it comes to people's opinions of them when it comes to the academic side of the collegiate experience. There aren't a lot of schools, though, that can match the claim that FSU can: they've had 2 Rhodes Scholars recently in Joseph O'Shea and Garrett Johnson. That list may grow as Myron Rolle received the news early Sunday morning that he's been named a finalist for the 2009 Rhodes scholarship. For Myron this is something he's long been working for. To see that dream developing as a real possibility is payoff for his efforts as a student at FSU.
"It feels really good," said Myron about getting the news of his nomination. "I got the email and the package late last night. They let me know that I had made it to the finals and that I need to be in Birmingham, AL on November 21st and 22nd for the final interview."
Much has been made about Myron off the field at FSU. With a good support system from his family, as well as the university, he has been able to focus on his academics. He has always put academics high on his list, and this reward shows him that it was well worth the time he put into it.
"I am excited and my family is excited," said Rolle. "This whole experience is uplifting for me. I've been working for this for a long time now. All I wanted was an opportunity to make the final interview, and now I have it. I have my shot now so I want to bring it home. This opportunity would provide me the chance to pursue the things I want to in the classroom."
Rolle is known for his academic prowess, but he's nationally known as the 3 year starter at safety for the FSU football team. This once in a lifetime chance will come when the Seminoles travel to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins in a few weeks. For Rolle he's still deliberating on how he is going to handle the situation.
"We are still deliberating on me being able to play," said Rolle about having to be in two places at one time. "This is a once in a lifetime experience that many people don't get a chance to go through. To be in contention is an honor in itself. I've worked really hard for this, so I can't answer it now on what is going to happen. Right now I just have to wait until the time of the game is released then I'll go from there. The interview is Saturday so I'd have to be there for that. If the game is early then I may not be able to make it, but if it's late I'm going to look into being able to catch a flight from Birmingham to College Park so I can be there for my team."
Myron expects some negative reaction the decision he now faces. He came to FSU on a full football scholarship, thus fans are going to expect he be there for the team regardless. On the other hand there are things in life, much like this honor bestowed upon Rolle, that supersede the game. He is ready to face the adversity that may come from him possibly missing the game.
"My family has always pushed academics on me," said Rolle, "and they've taught me how important academics are. This ties everything I have done here together. From the hard work in the classroom, to the research with my professors here at FSU and with the Seminole tribe in Okeechobee….I am committed to success in the classroom just as much as I am with football. This is a testament that hard work does pay off. I'm friends with Joe O'Shea who won last year. In talking to him I began to think this is something I could do. This is something that I've thought about since middle school."
When Myron was being recruited he made it knows how important academics was to him. That factor was a reason why many people thought he was heading towards a school like Florida, Michigan or Penn State, which are all schools that are perceived to be not only football factories but also high-level academic institutions. Myron receiving this honor is proof that a student can achieve anything at any school if they set their mind to it.
"My story illuminates that you are as good as you want to be, no matter where you go to college," explained Rolle. "I put a premium on academics and wanted to be the best student I could be. I got involved doing research and I was able to do the things I wanted to do here. I've had a terrific experience working with the people here. You can go to a school like Harvard and be an underachiever, or you can go to a school like FSU and take advantage of all the things they offer. That is what I did and it's been a fruitful experience for me."
Myron's next step is to prepare for the big final interview. Throughout this process he has talked with Garrett Johnson on what to expect. He hopes to learn more about what's ahead from the former Seminole in hopes that he'll be as prepared as possible when his time comes on the 22nd.
"The next step is to read up on the current events, do some mock interviews with people here at the school, and get ready to get the things that I want out in the interview," said Rolle. "I've been myself through this whole process so I want to be able to keep doing that. I've talked to Garrett every week. I've asked a lot of questions about it, but now I plan on asking him what to expect now and what the experience entails. He's been a big help to me and I think he'll continue to be as I move forward with this."
As fans of the Seminoles we all should congratulate Myron on this honor. Whether or not he plays in the game against Maryland on the 22nd should mean little in our support as Myron hopes to realize his dream of earning the prestigious Rhodes scholarship.