On Saturday, May 5, 2012, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, 40, received his doctoral degree in Education from Barry University in Miami, Florida.
O’Neal does everything in style and his graduation was no exception. Because he is seven foot one and weighs 325 pounds, he wore a custom-made, bright red XXXL-sized gown. O’Neal had to get dowm on one knee for Dr. David M. Kopp to put the light blue hood around his big neck indicating that he has met all the requirements for a doctorate degree.
Then O’Neal stood up and lifted his professor like Tarzan was rescuing Jane. The crowd celebrated with cheers.
O’Neal then walked over and hugged school president, Sister Linda Bevilacqua before walking off stage posing for photos in his cap, gown and hood like all the other graduates. On his way back to his seat, O’Neal strolled by a star struck row of graduates and handed out high-fives like he was walking past his old teammates on the bench.
According to the Miami Herald, President Bevilacqua said: “We have many notable graduates among our 55,000 alumni, but I would have to say Dr. O’Neal would give new meaning to big man on campus. It’s so important for young students to see that you can achieve great success in a variety of ways in our world. You can achieve tremendous prominence in many things, but what is most important is that we see ourselves as life-long learners. I think Dr. O’Neal is a very powerful example of that.”
Even though it took Dr. O’Neal over 20 years to get his BA, MBA, and now EED, one would think he is finished with education. Not so, according to Dr. O’Neal. He said he is returning to school to get his law degree.
Dr. O’Neal says he hope he has been a role model for others to continue their education like he did.
Why some might think this is an honorary degree, Dr. O’Neal shared that he spent the past 4 1/2 years, including his final two seasons in the NBA, quietly working toward his doctoral degree in organizational learning and leadership with a specialization in human resource development. He studied before and after games, and between his work on television, often staying up to the wee hours of the morning to get work done.
O’Neal achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.813 while completing 54 credit hours comprised of 16 courses and six credit hours of self-directed research. He did most of his course work via satellite, video conferencing and the internet. The title of his doctoral project was “The Duality of Humor and Seriousness in Leadership Styles.’’
O’Neal has made many accomplishments in his lifetime. He is a four-time world champion, 15-time All-Star, movie star, rapper and entertainer. However, he has concluded that: “Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this probably is my Number 1 accomplishment.”
In an earlier interview with Conan O’Brian, Dr. O’Neal indicated that he will be retiring the name “Shaq” and prefers to be called Dr. O’Neal rather than Dr. Shaq.
Congratulations, Dr. Shaquille O’Neal.