Terry Samuels was a tight end for the University of Kentucky football team in 1994 when he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. He was one semester away from graduating with a degree in social work.
On Friday, Samuels, now 46, walked with the other social work graduates in UK’s December graduation ceremonies.
“I always wanted to finish the degree,” he said. “I’m always out here teaching kids, and I’m always telling them education is primary.”
He left the NFL to be with family in Louisville, but without a degree, he had a hard time finding work. He finally worked his way through the management training program at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. He then became a manager and CEO of several auto dealerships. He now owns an Allstate Insurance Agency in Louisville.
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Samuels has always worked with kids, including teaching youth football. That helped prepare him for his social work practicum, which he did at the Metro United Way in Louisville.
Samuels also was inspired by his mother, who went back to school at 36 to get her nursing degree.
“I needed that degree. If I’d had it, I would have had an alternate career choice,” Samuels said. “Showing kids about commitment, that’s paramount to how we live, so that’s the reason why I went back.”
December graduation getting more popular
UK’s December graduation ceremonies have become more and more popular. About 1,795 undergraduates received their degrees Friday, along with 839 graduate students, and 117 students receiving professional degrees. More than 1,000 students had registered to take part in the ceremony, UK officials said. Two ceremonies were scheduled, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in Rupp Arena.