Having retired from the NFL at the age of 26, former Baltimore Ravens player John Urschel has undergone a remarkable career transition and currently serves as a mathematics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
A Dual Pursuit of Passions
While playing in the NFL, Urschel pursued his Ph.D. in mathematics at MIT. Surprisingly, he managed to publish six academic papers during his football career, a fact not widely known among his teammates and colleagues.
At the age of 25, John Urschel gained recognition on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2017 for his exceptional contributions to the field of mathematics.
He was truly dedicated to both football and mathematics, demonstrating his commitment by juggling these demanding pursuits.
Expressing his sentiments to Sports Illustrated, Urschel admitted, “I felt a bit guilty. I was somewhat ashamed of myself. I engaged in mathematical pursuits while playing, yet I always took pride in doing what I wanted and remaining steadfast in my choices.”
After completing three seasons in the NFL, Urschel retired in 2017 to wholeheartedly dedicate himself to the pursuit of advanced theoretical mathematics. By 2021, he successfully earned his Ph.D. from MIT, concentrating on matrix analysis and computations, with a notable emphasis on the theoretical applications applicable to real-world scenarios.
Urschel’s academic profile on the MIT mathematics website showcases his impressive journey. As an assistant professor in the MIT Math department, his research primarily focuses on matrix analysis and numerical analysis, with an emphasis on theoretical results and provable guarantees for practical problems.
His selected publications include works on topics such as “Nodal Decompositions of Symmetric Matrices” and “Maximum Spread of Graphs and Bipartite Graphs,” showcasing the breadth of his expertise in mathematics.
Bridging the Gap: Inspiring the Next Generation
Beyond his academic pursuits, Urschel has taken on the role of a mentor and advocate for diversity in mathematics. Recognizing the lack of representation, especially among African Americans, he aims to inspire young minds to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
In partnership with the National Museum of Mathematics, Urschel hosted an online panel discussion titled “Bending the Arc,” bringing together distinguished African American mathematicians to share their experiences and serve as inspiration for the younger generation.
A Beacon of Hope for Diversity in Mathematics
Urschel’s efforts to increase diversity in mathematics come at a crucial time when the field needs more voices from different backgrounds. Through his talks, mentorship, and involvement in educational programs, he aims to break barriers and make mathematics a welcoming space for individuals from all walks of life.
His journey, from the football field to the classroom, exemplifies the power of perseverance, dedication, and the pursuit of one’s passions. John Urschel continues to inspire and pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse future in the world of mathematics.
In a historic achievement for Madison High School in Illinois, twin sisters Ariana and Briana Straughter have emerged as the co-valedictorians of the Class of 2023. The dynamic duo has not only broken new ground in the district but has also secured full-ride scholarships to pursue higher education at Southern Illinois University.
The announcement of Ariana and Briana as co-valedictorians marks a significant milestone for the school district, reflecting not only their academic excellence but also the power of collaboration and mutual support. Ariana, the elder sister by just a minute, expressed, “We have encouraged each other continuously, we have studied together, made sure our projects were good together, and we have always received feedback from our teachers.”
Their dedication and teamwork bore fruit as they delivered a memorable commencement address at their graduation ceremony. Briana took the opportunity to inspire their classmates, urging them “to never give up and strive for greatness.”
Proud grandfather Jerry Straughter acknowledged the transformative journey of his granddaughters, stating, “They were normal, but everybody is normal until given the opportunity to be something different. They had the opportunity, they just had to recognize it, and luckily, they did recognize it, and hopefully, we were a catalyst for the entire family.”
Madison Jr. High School Principal Terrien Fennoy commended the twins for their unwavering focus, emphasizing, “They never let the outside noise get in the way of their business in the classroom. They consistently exhibited politeness and a willingness to assist in the classroom, going above and beyond by occasionally checking in on me. So, they deserve this honor. They worked hard.” Click here to continue reading about the amazing twin co-valedictorians.