For one former football star, the opportunity to witness palm trees and visit family was simply too great to pass up.
Jamal Roberts recently became the first student to graduate from Pasco-Hernando State College with a bachelor of applied science in supervision and management, taking advantage of one of PHSC’s two four-year programs.
“It was an accomplishment,” said Roberts, 21, who graduated in December. “It was a milestone for me, and it was a milestone for the college as well. It’s wonderful.”
While primarily a two-year college, PHSC began offering four-year programs in 2014, starting with the supervision and management program, as well as offering a bachelor of science in nursing. Formerly known as Pasco-Hernando Community College, the institution changed its name to reflect its broader program offerings.
Wasting no time after graduation, the Dade City native has already lined up a job as an administrative assistant at Irvin & Petty, a St. Petersburg-based law firm that primarily focuses on personal injury cases.
“I just want to be able to get dressed up nice for work every day,” Roberts quipped.
While still unsure what career path he wants to follow for the next 30-plus years, Roberts hopes to work for a company that features a positive work environment where fellow co-workers get along.
“I can have the best (job) or the easiest job duties, but if I’m in a terrible place, then I’m not going to like that job,” he elaborated. “But, if I have hard duties and everyone around me is friendly, and we’re all working together, then that’s going to be somewhere where I can stay.”
Prior to graduating from PHSC, Roberts was a standout athlete at Zephyrhills High School, where he shined as a dual-threat quarterback on the football team, was an All-Conference sprinter on the track team and also lettered in baseball.
Showcasing extraordinary athleticism, Division I football scholarships rolled in from several out-of-state programs, including Ball State, University of Massachusetts and Eastern Michigan. However, Roberts opted to attend Kent State in Ohio in 2012, where he suited up to play defensive back.
“Honestly, it was probably the best time of my life,” said Roberts, who spent three years on the Kent State Golden Flashes football team. “I had so much fun. I met a whole a bunch of people that I can call real friends.”
His most memorable experience at Kent State occurred in 2012, when he was redshirting as a freshman, the Golden Flashes finished 11-3 and earned a berth to the GoDaddy.com Bowl game.
“It was just unbelievable,” Roberts reminisced. “Just the way everybody played together, it was crazy.”
While Roberts enjoyed his college experience, the bone-chilling Midwest winters in northeast Ohio started to become unbearable. “It was terrible,” he stated.
The opportunity to move back to the Sunshine State arose when his mother, Pamela, who works at PHSC as a student development assistant, told him the college offered four-year programs.
It became a seamless transition for Roberts, where most of his college credits at Kent State transferred and applied to the new bachelor’s degree program.
“Honestly, I did miss my family,” he said about moving back to Florida. “So, after some thinking and some consideration, and given the opportunity, I thought it’d be best if I was back at home and I finished up (at PHSC).”
While his football-playing career is over, Roberts hasn’t forgotten about the lessons he learned from the sport, which he uses in his everyday life.
“One of the first things I learned about football in high school, one of my coaches said, ‘you wake up and you get better, or you wake up and you get worse,’ and that’s what I stick by with absolutely everything,” he explained. “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse and there’s no in between.
“That’s my mentality going towards things in life.”
With the burden of attending classes and studying on the weekends no longer tying up his time, Roberts plans to stay involved with the game he loves by getting into coaching youth football.
“I definitely see coaching as an opportunity for me to get out and teach young kids the game,” he said.
Published January 6, 2016