It's been seven years since James White last played a snap for the University fo Wisconsin, but no matter how long it has been, White knew he had one thing left to do -- finish his degree.
And this weekend, White did just that, graduating from University of Wisconsin with a degree in Life Sciences Communication. White wasn't in attendance for the graduation ceremony, but it is, without a doubt, a moment worth celebrating.
Throughout his life, education has been a priority, and the bar was set by his parents, Tyrone and LIsa. White grew up watching his father study for police exams, he told UWBadgers.com's Mike Lucas, and the emphasis on learning, hard work and persistence stuck with him.
"Education was always the most important thing that starts the foundation for your work ethic. If you work hard at school, you'd most likely work hard in anything you cared about," he said. "So, they always stressed how education will set up your future."
With his parents encouraging him to take classes during the offseason to finish up his degree, White decided to do it in secret. The goal was to surprise them when he finished this spring.
However, tragedy struck last September when White's father, Tyrone, died in a car accident. Though White wasn't able to share this moment with his father, he knows he would be proud of him.
"I know he'd be extremely proud," White said. "Going into college that was one of my goals besides trying to make it in the NFL. It was to graduate, and now that I've gotten it done, it's definitely a blessing."
In this vein, White and his wife, Diana, started their own Sweet Feet Foundation this offseason, putting an emphasis on education just like his parents did all his life. The Sweet Feet Foundation offers both academic and athletic scholarships to help provide financial support to students who need it.
White isn't the only Patriots player to recently complete his college courses. Joejuan Williams received his diploma from Vanderbilt University on May 2 after finishing his degree in sociology in 2020. The ceremony was pushed back a year due to the pandemic, but Williams said it was worth the wait.