Off the PitchJun 21, 2018

Q&A: Alex Roldan on Earning His Degree

Alex Roldan was just a few classes away from finishing his degree when he was drafted by the Sounders in January of 2018. The midfielder discusses earning his degree while balancing his new professional career and his desire to always continue learning. 

Q: What is your degree in?

Alex Roldan: My degree is in Business Management with a minor in Entrepreneurship.

Q: How many credits did you still need to graduate when you were drafted?

Roldan: I had about 30 credits left. The process was pretty interesting because I was lucky that I landed in Seattle. I was able to stay in the house that I was in, only 15 minutes from the school, which definitely made it a lot easier to finish. I also took some online courses and the school worked with me to help me finish. Overall, it was still the same feeling that I had when I was in school previously. I was still learning, and I was still able to pick up on new things. It was a pretty fun experience.

Q: What made you decide to finish school now versus later?

Roldan: I was almost done, so I figured why wait a couple more years to start all over again when I am still in the mentality where school is important to me. School is a priority because you never know when you are going to have to rely on it, so it's better to have it done sooner rather than later. Luckily, I had the opportunity to finish early in my career.

Q: Has education always been a priority for you?

Roldan: School has always been a focus, not only from my perspective, but my family's perspective as well. My parents put a lot of emphasis on the importance of school; what it offers us and what it can bring us in the future. Individually, it was always a goal to finish college and to have a degree.

Q: Was it difficult to balance your rookie season with continuing your education?

Roldan: I wouldn't say that it was difficult, but it was challenging to stay motivated at times because you finally have your dream job in the sport you love. You aren’t really thinking about school, but I was able to get through it and still enjoy the process of it. 

When you're in college, you're on strict schedules with timelines. But, when you become a professional athlete you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. You question whether you're being productive or not. School helped me to balance that. I would go to practice, go home to relax a bit, then get through some school work. That was my day. It helped me to stay in a rhythm, especially because the season is long in the pros. It kept me feeling productive.

Q: What was graduation day like?

Roldan: I had family and friends there, so it was a fun day. Having my parents there to see me walk across the stage is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am extremely proud of that.  And having my brother there made it that much better. Having him around is always nice, but the fact that he was able to attend graduation was very special. Actually, the other day during an interview I teased him about finishing before him. He was asked some question in training, then I just popped up there to ask, “How does it feel to have your little brother finish school before you?” It was pretty funny.

Q: How do you plan to use your degree?

Roldan: I would love to start my own business one day, but I'm still in the process of figuring out what I'm truly passionate about. There are things that I'm passionate about, but I am digging in to see what is out there.

I would like to get into graphic design and Photoshop. I think it is helpful in this society, where everything revolves around technology. I would like to get familiar with that.

Q: What would you tell other players deciding whether or not to finish school?

Roldan: I'd tell them that finishing up school is something that will help you in the long run. It's something that you can rely on. In life, you ever know when something will finish and you have to rely on something else as a backup plan.

You can follow Alex on Twitter and Instagram