By Sharla Hooper
Rolle named 2022 Bills Legend of the Year by former football team in recognition of the community service accomplished through his Butch Rolle Foundation supporting children’s education
University of Phoenix is pleased to share that alum and current student in the College of Doctoral Studies Donald “Butch” Rolle, was recognized as the 2022 Bills’ Legend of the Year, honoring Rolle’s leadership and community service through his Butch Rolle “Caring for Kids” Foundation, which strives to help students in marginalized areas around the country advance to college through grants and scholarships.
“It’s exciting to be named a Legend by the Bills, for work that is already so incredibly rewarding,” Rolle shares. “Kids have always been an important part of my community, in my family, church, college, and my career as a professional football player. I started college as an early education major, and always wanted to be a role model for kids and make a difference for them. The Foundation allows me to give back and support critical work transforming the lives and futures of kids who may not have the opportunity or community support.”
Rolle, a native of Miami, Florida, established the Foundation in 2013, building on his initial college career aspirations to become an early education teacher. The Foundation’s charitable efforts, aimed to support underserved youth receive mentoring and achieve enrollment in higher education with funding through scholarships and grants. The Foundation holds fundraisers across the country and also supports annual toy drives and meals for students.
Determined to see the Foundation be successful, he enrolled in the University of Phoenix Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and completed his degree in 2010. A friend founded a school in a neighborhood near where Rolle grew up, and as he became more involved with the school mission and administration, he decided to build on his MBA and pursue a doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies.
At the Foundation, Rolle has assembled a highly motivated and dedicated team of volunteers and community leaders who believe in the positive impact of education, which has to-date raised over $120,000 for more than 50 scholars entering college.
Tracie Marie, an Air Force veteran, leads the Foundation’s branding, marketing, and community engagement, and works closely with Rolle on fundraising and program development as well. “There is a rarity of men who make it to professional sports and even then, more rarely who come back to their community as educators. What Butch is doing as an educator now, inspiring our communities and making a difference for children’s futures, is special and we need more men like him.”
Members of his current Foundation volunteer team include scholarship recipients who returned to give back to the program that supported their educational aspirations.
Contessa Whilby was a scholarship recipient of the Foundation who graduated from a local high school in Miramar, Florida. Not familiar with the process of applying for scholarships, she only learned about the availability of the Foundation's scholarships through a coach. "My weightlifting coach told me about the scholarship and walked me through the process of applying, and it mean to much that he invested that time in me," she shared. "I was shocked when I found out that I had won it, and it was a really emotional moment for me and for my family and my coach, too."
Whilby completed her bachelor's and a teaching certificate, and currently teaches at a middle school in Fort Myers. She stays engaged with the Foundation, mentoring students from her former high school when possible.
Jasmine Bovastro, RN, was the second recipient of the scholarship, in 2016. Having seen her own mother sacrifice to earn a degree as a working adult, Bovastro was determined to be the first in her family to go to college straight from high school and was inspired by the experience of the inaugural recipient. "I made up my mind that I wanted that for myself," she states. "I was panicking about how I could pay for school, and that scholarship covered my worries and lifted me up."
Bovastro earned her BSN in 2020, entering a pandemic healthcare landscape where she was a frontline healthcare worker one month after she graduated. The scholarship began her educational journey; she is now studying for a master's degree and working in hospital administration and informatics. She stays in touch with Rolle and the Foundation, sharing, "Every time I see him, he has such positive affirmations and encouragement and shares his pride in seeing me succeed."
Rolle is currently working on a doctoral dissertation project focused on the experience of teachers in low-income schools with limited resources.
“Working on my doctorate studies is a mental challenge not so different from the physical challenges I faced on the field,” Rolle shares. “With the help and guidance of many great teachers, coaches and mentors, I was able to accomplish great things, and I continue to receive that kind of support in my doctoral studies as well.”
Learn more about Rolle’s Foundation here.
About the College of Doctoral Studies
University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.
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