An exceptional 74-year-old man, Bobby Bell has inspired many across the world after earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, United States, many years after leaving school.
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Bobby Bell, now 82, was a Pro Football Hall of Famer who had to leave school to focus on his football career after he enrolled at the university in 1959. However, Fifty-two years after he left campus for pro football, Bell returned to earn his degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies.
According to him, he made a promise to his father when he left home at 18 to ensure that he earns a Bachelor’s degree. He narrated his story in a letter written by him to his graduation class.
He explained that since he recorded a successful career in Super Bowl and Football, he had always had one thing missing which he has now achieved at the age of 74. “However, one thing was always missing. I have rooms full of plaques and trophies, but I did not have my college diploma,” he said.
“When I was 18 and left my home in Shelby, N.C., I told my father I would complete my education. When I was declared for the 1963 AFL draft, I was 17 credits shy of completing my degree. Then football happened, and life happened, and I never went back,” he narrated.
“My father died, and my mother died, and every year I told myself, “This is the year.” Finally, I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer. Life is too short. The University of Minnesota dug up my handwritten transcripts and worked with me to figure out a plan. It was going to be difficult, but hey, I’ve done some difficult things in my life,” he continued.
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“I took courses online so I could stay home in Kansas City. I told my professors and the students in the course not to tell anybody I was back getting a degree. I didn’t want to call attention to myself, as I needed to focus on my homework,” he continued.
Bobby Bell finally explained that graduating at his age makes him feel fulfilled as he is sure his father is proud of him. ” When I walked across the stage May 14, I thought to myself, Dad, it might be a little late, but I did it,” he added.
Explaining the difficulties he encountered upon his return to university, he advised young generations to find it comfortable to always ask for help whenever they needed it. “When I started my degree up again, it was very different than it was in 1959. Everything was based on technology. Back when I went to school, we went to the library to do research and look things up.”
“Now I was asked to make Power Points as my homework assignments. The problem was, I didn’t know how to create them—how to make all the slides, and time it to make sure it was all under eight minutes, which was the requirement,” he continued.
“I asked my son. He helped me with the laptop, and he knew a little bit about Power Points,” he added.