Anthony Walker Jr. sat in his home, ear to cell phone, new coach on the line. Then came the announcement on TV in the spring that had the room full of family and friends explode in celebration.
With the 161st pick in the NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Anthony Walker Jr., linebacker from Northwestern …
Step Up For Students* scholars have gone on to all kinds of impressive accomplishments. Now they can add the NFL to the collective list.
Walker’s parents secured a Florida tax credit scholarship so he could attend a private middle school, wanting a better situation for him academically and socially. Walker went on to Monsignor Edward Pace High School, a private school in Miami Gardens.
“He’s thrived academically, socially and athletically,” said Anthony Walker Sr., his father and one of his football coaches at Monsignor Pace. “We couldn’t be happier and more proud of him.”
Led by his dream of playing in the NFL, Anthony Jr. was always a good student and hard worker. He knows his parents put him in position to succeed. But the scholarship was important, he said, because his parents wouldn’t have been able to afford tuition without it.
“There’s definitely a noticeable difference going to a private school,” he said. “There are a lot less distractions. It’s more than just education. There are outside pressures, teen peer pressure to do anything but succeed in school. So me being in the private school setting limited that and kept me on the right track.”
Success on the field and in the classroom translated to Walker getting recruited by revered academic institutions like Northwestern, Stanford, and Duke. All have excellent football programs.
When Northwestern offered a scholarship, Walker accepted and moved to Evanston, Ill. The structure and time-management skills he learned at Monsignor Pace helped him balance school and football.
Getting drafted is only one of this year’s big milestones. Walker is set to graduate in June with a degree in Learning and Organizational Change. After his playing career, he hopes to work in an NFL front office and one day be a general manager.
“The degree is way more important than the football,” Walker said. “but to be able to get both is awesome.”
About Monsignor Edward Pace High School
Founded in 1961, Monsignor Pace is located on 44 acres in Miami Gardens and part of the Archdiocese of Miami. It’s a member of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The school has a 1-to-14 teacher-to-student ratio with 830 students in grades 9-12, including 377 on the Step Up scholarship. With a focus on college preparation, the school boasts a 100 percent graduation rate and 99 percent college attendance. The school annually administers the PSAT, Aspire and ACT tests for various grades. Tuition is $11,725 for grades 9-11 and $11,975 for grade 12.
Jeff Barlis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.