Tyrese Gibson-Battles, a defensive lineman at Florida A&M University, became the first in his family to earn a degree. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.87 overall GPA and 4.0 semester grade point average — making him the football player graduating with the highest point average on the team. Gibson-Battles earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on quantitative analysis.

“It’s really special and was very important for me to be the first to do it,” he said in an interview with The Tallahassee Democrat. “I knew I had it in me. It was a goal of mine, and I knew I wanted to be successful since I was very young.”

“Growing up, I didn’t have anyone to look up to regarding education,” he added. “Now, the younger generations coming up can realize it’s not a dream that’s not too far out of their reach. I created history. But I wasn’t trying to make history. I was trying to be me and be great.”

The Cleveland native hopes this shows that students can have good grades while pursuing a collegiate football career.

“Football players are not just robots,” Gibson-Battles said. “It’s very important to represent inside the classroom and on the field to show folks it’s not easy, but it’s possible to do both.”

The recent graduate played in Division II for Urbana University and Garden City Community College, before transferring to play Division I football at FAMU ahead of the 2023 season. In the fall, he will pursue a master’s degree in business administration at FAMU, while playing his final college football season.

He plans on delving into entrepreneurship and accounting in the future.

“Business, math, and public speaking clicked,” Gibson-Battles told The Tallahassee Democrat. “Ultimately, I want to dibble and dabble in so many areas as far as insurance, accounting, financial advising, or working for corporations. I want to be close to business. It’s so many avenues. But I have to be an entrepreneur and business owner. It’s important to me and my family.”

He noted the significance of graduating college and being the first in his family to do so. In doing so, he hopes to inspire others.

“This isn’t a regular degree. It means so much more,” Gibson-Battles said.

“In a world full of negativity, I’m just trying to do something positive and be great while I’m doing it,” he added. “I do this for my family and mom, who sacrificed her whole life to raise us. I do this for everyone who has every odd one stacked against them. I hope other folks follow in my footsteps.”