After bouncing around the minor leagues for more than a decade, Michael Carter was looking for a way to get back into the game of baseball. He applied for several different coaching positions throughout Arizona, but one thing seemed to be missing.
“There were a couple college coaching jobs available and high school jobs available, but the main criteria was you needed to have a degree,” Carter said. “Once I realized that I was going to have a hard time getting a job in baseball, which is what I wanted to do, I decided I needed to go back to school and get my degree.”
Carter did go back to school last fall thanks to receiving a full-tuition scholarship from the “Teaming Up For Education” program, a partnership between the University of Phoenix and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation.
Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is spearheading the program for a third consecutive year, helping deserving individuals in Arizona, such as Carter, make their college dreams come true.
“Just hearing him (Carter) and just how excited he is to have that opportunity, it inspires me,” Goldschmidt said. “Now I’m like, ‘Man, could we give out some more scholarships?’ It’s awesome.”
Goldschmidt got his wish.
With interest growing, the program was expanded last year to increase the number of scholarships from three to five.
There have been 17 scholarships awarded since the program began in 2011 and five more will be awarded this year. Of the 17 previous recipients, seven have already earned degrees from the University of Phoenix and all of the others are continuing to pursue degrees.
Goldschmidt finished up his own degree at the University of Phoenix in 2013, four years after being drafted by the Diamondbacks out of Texas State University. The Diamondbacks slugger took online classes at University of Phoenix while playing for the team to earn his bachelor of science in management.
“I didn’t want to be shut down to any opportunities when my baseball career was over, however long that may be,” Goldschmidt said. “I knew I had put in a lot of hard work for three years before I was drafted, so I didn’t want that to just be a waste.”
Similarly, Carter spent two years at the University of West Alabama before he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1990. The 47-year-old now plans to graduate from the University of Phoenix sometime during the 2017-18 school year.
“It’s been a great opportunity for me. Being a minor league baseball player, you don’t make a lot of money,” Carter said. “I owe him (Goldschmidt) a lot, considering that I wouldn’t have the finances to support myself to go to school like this.”
University of Phoenix accepts up to 150 applications for the scholarship. Once a selection committee narrows down the original group of applicants, Goldschmidt and his wife Amy will give their input as to who they believe should receive the scholarships this year.
University of Phoenix accepts up to 150 applications for the scholarship. Once a selection committee narrows down the original group of applicants, Goldschmidt and his wife Amy will give their input as to whom they believe should receive the scholarships this year.
“Paul is a great example of the success of our alumni and the impact they make in their communities,” said University of Phoenix President Timothy P. Slottow in a news release. “Our alumni live with purpose and overcome adversity in pursuit of their goals, and we are grateful to see more rise to the challenge and realize their potential.”
This year’s winners will be announced during the Diamondbacks Sept. 30 game against the San Diego Padres. Goldschmidt hopes the new recipients will have an experience similar to the one he had at University of Phoenix.
“I saw the impact. I saw how great it was for me,” he said. “So hopefully now we’ll provide the opportunity for even more students.”
By Matt Faye, Cronkite News