Trent Tucker finally earned his degree from the U, 23 years after he left to play professional basketball.
NBA star earns U degree after a 23-year hiatus
Trent Tucker will speak about his experiences returning to school on Feb. 6
By Megan Rocker
Feb. 2, 2007
Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Trent Tucker realized how lucky he was to have positive role models in his life. "My parents taught me early on the importance of making positive choices and having a support system," he says. Even so, "growing up, college wasn't something that was really in my plans. Every day, I was faced with negative [situations]; drugs, alcohol, and other tragic events." But thanks to his parents and other adult influences, Tucker didn't fall prey to many of the things that plagued his peers. His father, a part-time carpenter and employee at General Motors, and his mother, a homemaker, fostered a strong sense of community values and stressed the importance of education. They also encouraged his athletic pursuits. At age seven, he first picked up a basketball--and immediately found his calling. "When I started receiving college recruiting letters in the 10th grade, I realized basketball would give me the opportunity to go on to college," says Tucker. After much consideration, Tucker chose the University of Minnesota, and in 1978 became a student athlete. At the U, Tucker became interested in courses dealing with law, policy and criminal justice. As someone who had been faced with many difficult decisions and choices growing up, he also was intrigued with people's decision-making processes and the role of an individual's environment and upbringing on future choices. "The U...instill[ed] knowledge [I] would utilize in the years to come," he says. "I enjoyed taking classes where I could communicate and debate with my classmates about issues I had life experiences with."
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, Trent Tucker will talk about his decision to return to school as an adult and his life after basketball in a free event sponsored by the College of Continuing Education at the McNamara Alumni Center on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. A free career workshop and a continuing education fair will follow.
"Basketball had been so good to me for so many years," says Tucker. "But after basketball was over I knew that if I wanted to get into something else, education would be the right way to go. There's so many other wonderful fields that you can explore but without that education those things would not be possible."
To RSVP for the event and to view a video clip of Trent Tucker, visit the College of Continuing Education.
"I remember that first day I walked in and sat down and the students kind of looked at me for a minute, like they were thinking 'what's HE doing here?'...," says Trent Tucker.Still, returning to the classroom as an adult was not easy--even for a former professional athlete and celebrity. "It was a challenge. Walking into a classroom after so many years...looking around and asking myself, 'Do I fit in here?', 'Do I belong?', 'Can I cope?'. I remember," Tucker laughs, "that first day I walked in and sat down and the students kind of looked at me for a minute, like they were thinking 'what's HE doing here?', and then one of them asked 'are you the professor?' And I just kind of laughed and told them I hadn't quite achieved that status--yet." Tucker says he enjoyed the challenge of going back to school, testing his limits, and especially meeting and working with his fellow students and professors. "You're never too old to learn, to grow," he says. "I loved the program; I had a ball. And to have a degree from the U of M? That's a special thing." In 2005, Tucker graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology of communications in human services, specializing in youth psychology. It's a degree he puts to use daily, both in his nonprofit organizations and in his continued involvement with basketball. "This degree gave me a chance to do different things that I truly enjoy doing. It's given me an even better understanding of how to reach kids and communicate with them."