NFL and UT Students Work to Reduce Drop-out Rate

Published: Nov 27, 2012
Patrick 'PK' Creedon ’14 is paired with Davin Joseph, a guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Patrick 'PK' Creedon ’14 is paired with Davin Joseph, a guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
From right Dylan Sellberg ’13 is paired with Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles.
From right Dylan Sellberg ’13 is paired with Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Patrick 'PK' Creedon ’14 is running a campaign of sorts, though not of the political kind.

He’s on a mission to get 3,000 signatures from the community as pledges to mentor, tutor or volunteer as a reader, or spread the word about the state of education.

“Every year, more than one million students fail to graduate on time, and more than 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the U.S.,” said Creedon, a United Way TEAM NFL intern who, along with Dylan Sellberg ’13, spent this summer at a Youth Empowerment Summit in Washington, D.C., with 18 players from the NFL, 39 high performing students from challenged schools and 19 other college interns.

The goal is to recruit one million pledges and reduce the dropout rate in half by 2018, using the help of NFL players and their student teams to form a second line of support beyond the classroom. Creedon is paired with Davin Joseph, a guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Sellberg along with another intern is paired with Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles.

While Creedon now might be friends with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings on Facebook and Twitter, he doesn’t follow them on the football field. Because of his busy school and work schedule, Creedon is lucky if he can fit in a game or two to watch Joseph and the Buccaneers, even with free tickets.

“I’m not really into football,” confessed Creedon, who is from Illinois. “I was drawn to the community service and leadership aspect of this program.”

Quite the opposite for Sellberg, a sport management major with a minor in philosophy.

“I am a huge fan of the NFL and especially the Philadelphia Eagles,” said Sellberg, who is from Connecticut. “On top of this, the internship has a focus in social media promotion. This area of discipline has proven more and more relevant to me as I move forward in my career. Social media is something unique and necessary that our generation can bring to the table in the business world.”

Aside from the summer summit, Creedon and Sellberg have spent this fall working closely with their NFL teams and with the United Way organization located in each team’s city, collaborating on ideas for spreading the word and organizing events on campus and in the community.

Much is still in the planning stages but both are steadily seeing their pledges grow. As of Nov. 27, Creedon and Joseph’s team had 918 and Sellberg and Asomugha’s had 420. An updated leaderboard can be found on the United Way’s website.

“This is something I’m so passionate about that I want to continue with the effort even after the internship ends,” said Creedon, an international business and marketing major with a minor in economics and German. “It’s been an incredible networking experience.”

According to the United Way,

  • America’s high school graduation rate ranks 19th in the world; 40 years ago, we were number one.
  • Two-thirds of American fourth graders cannot read at grade level. Reading is linked to high school success.
  • Children learn to read for the first few years, but after fourth grade they’re reading to learn. Without strong reading skills, they fall behind, get discouraged and often drop out.
  • Caring volunteers working with students of all ages have the power to help kids boost academic achievement and reading scores.

For more information on the United Way TEAM NFL, visit the website.

To sign up for Creedon and Joseph’s team and pledge to tutor, mentor or to be a volunteer reader, click here.

To sign up for Sellberg and Asomugha’s, click here.


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