Atlanta Falcons: Former Safety Aboard Mission for Success
Former Atlanta Falcons safety William White is aboard a mission to inspire youth to aim high.
The announcement of the Houston Texans’ 130th pick in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft was, and will remain, literally astronomical as it took viewers to outer space. The broadcast featured Peggy Whitson, the record-holder for most consecutive days living in space, aboard the International Space Station before retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly announced the Texans’ selection from Space Center Houston. That moment was a glimpse into a small step that’s part of a giant leap for mankind. It was a very cool moment that peaked interest in space science for many much like National Space Day.
Observed on the first Friday of May, National Space Day is dedicated to the celebration of historic achievements and further exploration of space. Furthermore, it promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and encourages youth to pursue a career in these fields, particularly in space. And while this is just one day dedicated to this mission, former Atlanta Falcons safety William White boards the mission year round.
White, who played in the NFL for 11 years with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, is currently the Vice President of Project Lead The Way, a nonprofit organization that aims to empower students to thrive in an evolving world by developing STEM-focused curriculums for schools across the United States. To White, STEM education equated to success early on. When he visited his father at work in a General Motors factory one summer, he noticed that the only air-conditioned office in the entire place was the engineer’s. That moment, amidst the sweltering summer heat, peaked White’s interest in engineering even though he didn’t really understand what engineering was at the time.
What White saw at that moment was success just as he saw when he was in college and weighing options of which major to select. With an abundance of options, as with the NFL Draft, the Ohio-native decided to major in metallurgical engineering at Ohio State University after learning that 100 percent of the programs’ graduates were employed upon completion of the program. When White chose this major, he chose success.
A career in engineering seemingly provided more job security and longevity than a career as a safety in the NFL (which is sometimes referred to as the Not For Long league). However, it’s important to realize that math and science are relevant to many things, including football. Players, including former New York Giants cornerback Trevin Wade, can attest to the importance and relevance of math used in the game such as yardage, angles, and ball pressure. Furthermore, a lot of STEM education goes into the equipment engineered to protect players from the powerful forces behind the violent hits they absorb.
Former Atlanta Falcons safety William White has been able to develop and maintain a successful career long after his NFL career ended in 1998 with his educational background. It’s for this reason that he advocates for STEM education in his work at Project Lead The Way (PLTW).
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White is aboard a mission to motivate youth to reach for the stars. He continues to rise up despite no longer playing for the Falcons. And that’s what we should all be doing because as National Space Day reminds us, the sky is the limit.