May 6, 2012
OXFORD, Ohio -- Ben Roethlisberger, record-breaking quarterback at Miami University from 2001-2003 and current star for the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education Sunday morning (May 6) in Commencement exercises at Miami's Millett Hall.
The 30-year-old Roethlisberger (pronounced ROTH-liss-berger), was among nearly 600 students who received their diplomas at the ceremony officiated by Dean Carine Feyten of The School of Education, Health & Society. This year marks the University's 173rd Annual Commencement.
Roethlisberger's wife (Ashley), his parents (Ken and Brenda) and his grandmother (Audrey Roethlisberger) all were in attendance for the special event on the Oxford, Ohio campus.
"This day means a lot to me," said Roethlisberger. "I'm proud of this school, I'm proud of the `M' and I'm proud of the education I've received here. I can't thank the people here at Miami for everything they've done and, nine years later, we've finally got it. How could I tell my children someday how vital an education is if I didn't have one, so that was really important to me to get it done."
Melissa Chase, Associate Dean for Miami's School of Education, Health & Society and a faculty member in the University's Kinesiology & Health Department, had Roethlisberger as a student in one of her classes. She began working with him as his academic advisor in the Spring of 2005, just more than a year after he left school to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Roethlisberger gave Chase credit as the person who urged him to get his degree.
"To have someone like her to push me was exactly what I needed," said Roethlisberger. "She helped me to see the goal. I can't say enough to what it meant to have her behind me."
"Ben needed four courses to graduate when he left Miami following the Fall semester of 2003," said Chase. "Over the past seven years he has completed two courses as independent studies. One course was on Curriculum and Assessment in Physical Education and the other was a special topics research experience on Talent Development in Youth Sports. He completed these two courses with me. His third course was the senior capstone, Critical Reflection on Practices in Health and Physical Culture. The fourth course was part of a thematic sequence in anthropology. Ben completed this last course this spring semester."
"I admire Ben's persistence and desire to graduate," Chase continued. "He worked hard when he attended Miami and after he left to earn his degree. I'm confident that all he's gained from being a student at Miami University will serve him well in the future. I'm just so happy for Ben and his family."
Miami University President David Hodge is proud to count Ben Roethlisbergeramong one of the 202-year-old University's more than 200,000 alumni.
"Ben is well known for his athletic accomplishments, but what is significant today is that he comes from a long line of student-athletes at Miami who have excelled both on the field and in the classroom," said David Hodge, Miami's president. "Eighty-nine percent of student-athletes who enroll at Miami University earn their degrees. Like them, Ben is very proud to be a Miami graduate, and we are delighted to count Ben among our alumni."
Roethlisberger, a native of Findlay, Ohio, took his place in Miami football history when his jersey No. 7 was retired on October 13, 2007, becoming just the third individual in program history to have his number retired. He owns every major Miami single-game, single-season and career passing mark, while topping Mid-American Conference charts in several categories. Roethlisberger helped orchestrate one of the most impressive seasons in Miami history as the 2003 RedHawks compiled 13 consecutive victories, a MAC championship, a Bowl victory and a No. 10 final ranking in the national polls. He captured third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press during his record-breaking junior campaign and became just the third Miami player to garner the Vern Smith Award as the MAC's Most Valuable Player.
After foregoing his final year of collegiate eligibility and entering the NFL Draft as a junior, Roethlisberger was selected with the 11th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the highest draft position of any Miami player in program history. During his eight seasons with the Steelers, he's played in 114 games, passing for 26,579 yards and 165 touchdowns. Roethlisberger has led Pittsburgh to Super Bowl victories twice (XL in 2006 and XLII in 2008). In the games in which he's been the quarterback, the Steelers have compiled a record of 69-29 in regular-season games and have been 10-3 in NFL playoff games.
"The magnitude of Ben Roethlisbergergraduation today is extensive," said Brad Bates, Miami's Director of Athletics. "It represents his extraordinary perseverance and focus in a profession of enormous physical and mental demands. It represents the prestigious value of a Miami degree to our students - even relative to achieving the pinnacle of NFL success. It represents the power of his dedication as well as the humility of `walking' with his fellow Miami graduates as they celebrate this exceptional intellectual achievement. It represents a wonderful family supporting his dreams and his perpetual kinship within the Miami family! Ultimately, Ben's graduation represents `Love and Honor to Miami'."
Another person displaying his pride in Roethlisberger's achievement is current Miami head coach and alumnus Don Treadwell.
"Today is a day of great celebration," he said. "All Miami student-athletes aspire to earn a meaningful degree and wear championship rings. For those who make it to the NFL there is a greater challenge to finish their degree. However, once they achieve this accomplishment, we take great pride as a Miami football family in celebrating one of our own. This day, with Love & Honor, we recognize Ben Roethlisbergeras a Miami graduate."
To read Mike Lopresti's story about Big Ben's big day , click here to access the USAToday website.