Sometimes we are too quick to fast-forward, skip, turn-down or mute the sound when inevitable ads intrude into our lives.

We have all seen way-too-many-times-to-count the AFLAC Duck, Flo for Progressive, the Sprint dude and/or the AT&T dudette. We could almost scream.

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And then every blue moon there is that one special ad, which makes us sit up, think deeply and maybe even brings a tear to the eye. And that very same ad may change the way we think about a given firm or a marketed product.

The University of Phoenix has major PR problems. The online college only graduates 17.5 percent of its enrollees. It charges an eye-opening $9,812 in tuition. Way too many former students have zero degrees, but they are saddled in thousands of dollars of debt (estimated $493 million total). Some CEOs believe that for-profit colleges are simply selling degrees, and their diplomas are not worth the fancy paper in which they are printed.

These are tough charges and allegations. And there lies the origin of perceived and real public relations issues for the University of Phoenix.

University of Phoenix stadium, site of this years Super Bowl.

University of Phoenix Stadium.

The University of Phoenix has the resources to have its name adorned on the stadium of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona. Which brings us to wide receiver Larry Darnell Fitzgerald, Jr., #11 of the Cardinals.

There is also no doubt that Fitzgerald will be enshrined in Canton. In his 12 years with the Arizona Cardinals, he has caught more than 1,000 passes for more than 13,000 yards and 101 touchdowns. The team came one eyelash from winning Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.

Bachelor of Science in Communication, 2016

And yet there is more to the Larry Fitzgerald story, much more. It concerns a promise to his mom. His mother, Carol, passed away from breast cancer in 2003. The two were not speaking to each other, which he now regrets.

Nonetheless, he remembered his promise. He opted for the NFL draft after only two seasons with the Pittsburgh Panthers. Despite all the fame and the reported $20 million contract, something was missing in his life, a college degree.

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Maybe knowing it or not, he was following in the footsteps of some very famous “non-traditional” students: Joe Namath (Alabama), Isiah Thomas (Indiana) and Shaquille O’Neal (LSU) … and just this year, Larry Fitzgerald.

Namath finished his degree 42 years after leaving Tuscaloosa. Thomas fulfilled his commitment made in a legal contract drawn up by his mother, Mary, attaining his college degree from Indiana University. It was nearly a quarter-of-a-century between Shaquille departing LSU and receiving his degree.

What fascinates Almost DailyBrett is the drive that still exists for a few celebrity athletes, who have reached the top of their game and attained the enviable position of being financially set for life, who realize something is missing in their life – the satisfaction of a college degree.

Your author teaches at Central Washington University, which will never be confused with Harvard and Stanford. Having said that, it is exciting to realize how many of our students will be the first in their family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and how many are “non-traditional” – beyond, sometimes way beyond, the traditional 18-24-year age range for most college students.fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald is a non-traditional student. Maybe the fact that University of Phoenix is primarily online made going back to college a little bit easier from an awkwardness standpoint. Something tells Almost DailyBrett that Fitzgerald is very comfortable in his own skin. Still he needed to fulfill his promise to his deceased mom.

Fitzgerald dials his mom’s landline and hears her voicemail greeting. He wants to appreciate her voice yet again. He then tells his mom he kept his promise, he graduated (the University of Phoenix diploma hangs on the wall). He loves her.

The fact that he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication brings a smile to the face of the author of Almost DailyBrett. The simple-and-effective “We Rise” tagline works from a marketing and branding standpoint.

There is no doubt that Larry Fitzgerald rose above the inclination to eternally procrastinate, to settle into a comfortable life, and to not fulfill his promise.

Thank you University of Phoenix and Larry Fitzgerald for telling this wonderful story. Hopefully, more than 29 percent of our population will be inspired to attain their bachelor’s degrees or even more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fWLmf1O8oQ

http://www.larryfitzgerald.com/

http://www.phoenix.edu/

http://www.phoenix.edu/partners/larry-fitzgerald.html?intcid=mktg-home-page:hero:banner:top

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/11/sports/thomas-keeps-promise-to-mom.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/12/15/football-great-joe-namath-earns-college-degree-42-years-later.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/story?id=100078&page=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/07/09/these-20-schools-are-responsible-for-a-fifth-of-all-graduate-school-debt/?tid=sm_fb 

 

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