NFL Cornerback Gives College Scholarship to Virginia HS Senior for Making Honor Roll
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Incentives can be a great motivator, and NFL star Richard Sherman provided a Virginia high school student with an incentive that was worth working towards: a college scholarship.
Sherman, a defensive player for the Seattle Seahawks, met Hershai James, a junior at Varina High School at the time, last year. They met at a benefit dinner and football camp organized by Michael Robinson, Sherman’s teammate, for the Excel 2 Excellence Foundation. Robinson, who also attended Varina High School, established the foundation in 2010 to support students who may not receive the attention or assistance they need.
During their conversation, Sherman challenged James to improve her grades. Even though she was already working two jobs and participating in sports, she couldn’t resist the challenge.
"When my senior year started, I had the scholarship in mind as my motivation," said James in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Senior year is really stressful, and having something to look forward to helped. It felt like my hard work and dedication had paid off."
James managed to improve her grades and made honor roll. At this year’s benefit dinner, she informed Sherman that she had fulfilled her part of the deal. Sherman then fulfilled his promise and announced that he would cover the cost of her business studies at Norfolk State University in the upcoming fall.
James was in shock when she heard the news. She double-checked with Sherman to make sure he was serious. "I just felt incredibly blessed to have been given this amazing opportunity," she said.
Sherman, who graduated from Stanford University, believes that knowledge is power and wants students to maximize their potential. "No one can stop anyone from reading and educating themselves," he told the newspaper. "Mike is trying to empower these kids to be everything they can be, and if we can assist with our presence, autographed jerseys for auction, or our words, we’ll do everything we can."
For James, this "everything" was a powerful incentive that resulted in her becoming an honor roll graduate of Varina High School.