Soon-to-be Lumberjack football alum Gavin Roland has been awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in the amount of $10,000, per an announcement from the Postgraduate Scholarship Committee. Roland, a League City, Texas native, plans to utilize the scholarship to attend medical school following his impending graduation from SFA, with plans to ultimately become an orthopedic surgeon.

“Gavin is a special person”, said SFA Faculty Athletics Representative Dr. Jason Reese. “He is someone who cares for others and his university. This award is perfect way to recognize his efforts in the classroom and on the field. Gavin is one of only 21 male student athletes in all of the NCAA that compete in a fall sport to receive this award. He is an impressive student, athlete, and human being!”

Roland gathered support from friends, family and teammates to put himself on a path towards medical school, but his drive to do so was reinforced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected the communities around him.

“Applying to medical school in the midst of a pandemic only affirmed my passion for medicine”. said Roland. “The pandemic made apparent not only the absolute necessity for more physicians in the medical field but more specifically the need for minority physicians who could relate directly to those minority populations who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Access to healthcare, socioeconomic disparities and empathetic, patient-centered care are all deficiencies that I believe COVID exposed in the health care system during the pandemic. I feel as if it is my purpose to actively pursue permanent solutions to these issues, which I believe fueled me through this grueling and chaotic application cycle.”

Having been accepted into the University of Texas’ McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas as a July 2021 enrollee, Roland will begin down the path that he ultimately hopes will lead him into either pediatric care or orthopedic surgery.

“I have been interested in pediatrics and orthopedic surgery (two very different specialties) because of my experience in servicing my community and participating in sports”, added Roland. “Throughout my life I’ve always seem to find myself participating in mentor/mentee programs and other organizations that involved giving back to the youth, which always felt rewarding at the end of the day. My interests in orthopedic surgery bloomed from the unfortunate reality of seeing so many injuries throughout my 15+ year career as an athlete. I’ve always been fascinated by the musculoskeletal system and how it allows us athletes do what we love.”

Roland joins former Lumberjack Marlon Walls (2018) as recent graduates of the Lumberjack football program who have received postgraduate scholarships upon graduation and have utilized those opportunities to go into STEM fields. By being an example of academic and athletic success as a Division I football player, Roland hopes to be part of the solution towards eroding stereotypes commonly associated with football and academics.

“I believe generalizations and stereotypes in general are a part of an overarching issue in America”, Roland shared. “These systematic problems maintained by powerful institutions are a part of limiting ideologies that keep people, places and things in a certain category. For me, I’ve never been one to subject myself to other people’s opinions and ideas of me. Hearing biased comments such as those mentioned above helped me realize that just as fast as ignorance can be taught it can also be dismantled. By being an example of who you are instead of who people think you should be is the quickest way to educate those who adhere to stereotypes.”