Tyrone Ross Traded Football for Academicsby
He grew up poor in Pittsburgh, hoping football would get him to college. But after he arrived in Redlands to live with his sister, advisors at San Bernardino Valley College showed him football was not his only path to glory.
“I had a lot of growth at Crafton Hills and Valley College,” he said. “I learned to trust education over other things. My advisor helped me make a list of the pros and cons of football. It had more cons.”
So he flipped a switch in his head to academics and hit the books harder than he ever did in high school. At Crafton, where he took most of his classes, he won leadership positions in student government. “I was vice president of external affairs at Crafton, and eventually I was student body president,” Ross said. “I like using my brain instead of my body.”
That led to a five-month leadership program organized by the San Bernardino Community College District — the Academy for Dynamic Leadership — where he met and learned from business leaders, judges, police officers, and government officials. At the same time, he was hearing good things about the U.S. Coast Guard from co-workers at his job at the Redlands YMCA.
He started school at San Bernardino Valley College but graduated from Crafton Hills because it is closer to home. Then he transferred to UC Riverside, where he is majoring in global studies. So far, his UCR classes are online, but he looks forward to seeing the bell tower in person. After graduation in 2022, he hopes to be an officer in the Coast Guard. After that, he wants his own business.
“I’m not paying a dime at UCR,” he said proudly. “My goal in football was to get a four-year scholarship, and I have been able to do that in my academic work. I got my wish.”
His goal is to be successful enough to fund a mentorship program for ninth and 10th graders from low-income backgrounds, to help them travel, and to teach them the value of community college.
“I would like to get them out in the world, to conventions, to art museums, to sermons, to big cities like New York, Miami, Houston, and show them what’s cool in this country.”
“I would like to open their minds to careers in engineering, business, law, medicine,” he said. “I want to plant the seed in their head, that you too, can make something out of yourself.”
“Mentors changed my life. I had a African American advisor who gave me a blueprint for how I can get through community college and transfer to a four year school. I want to pay that forward.”
“You are who you hang around with. If you see people around you who can come up with brilliant ideas for the school, you learn, you can do that too. There were a lot of smart people on student senate.”
“When people think of an African American male, I want to give them a good impression. I want them to see success.”
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