Meet the Marshals: Urschel and Shirley

A closer look at the Penn State Homecoming Marshals:

Grand Marshal – John Urschel

John Urschel embodies the true spirit of a Nittany Lion both on the field and in the classroom. This past year, former Baltimore Raven John Urschel retired from the NFL to pursue his Ph.D. in mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He began his academic journey by completing his B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Statistics at Penn State in 2012, finishing with a 4.0 GPA. He then obtained his M.A. in Mathematics from Penn State in 2013. Not only did John Urschel excel in his own classes, but during his time as a student, John also taught several mathematics courses at the university and published a number of peer-reviewed articles, all while playing on the Penn State football team’s offensive line.

John served as the Student Marshal during the 2012 Mathematics graduation ceremony. During this same ceremony, John was honored as the recipient of the 2013 William J. Campbell trophy, which many refer to as the “academic Heisman.” As the country’s top amateur athlete, he was also the recipient of the 2014 James E. Sullivan award, among numerous other accolades and honors.

John Urschel is excited to return home to Penn State this November. “Penn State was a place where I not only found my love of mathematics but grew into the man I am. If it wasn't for Penn State, I don't know where I would be today,” he said.

Honorary Grand Marshal – Scott Shirley

Penn State Homecoming is excited to welcome home former PSU football player and philanthropy innovator Scott Shirley. Scott graduated from Penn State with his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 2003. He continued his education at the university, and in 2004 he received his M.S. in Civil Engineering with a focus in construction management. During his time at Penn State, Scott excelled in the classroom and was recognized as the top student in his class. Scott now serves as the Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes and founded the innovative fundraising platform Pledge It.

During his time at Penn State, Scott served as a wide receiver for the Penn State football team. It was while on the team that Scott was inspired to form Uplifting Athletes, a national nonprofit that works to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport. Today, Uplifting Athletes has college chapters across the country run by current student-athletes, providing them with practical job skills while learning how to leverage their popularity to make a positive and lasting impact.

The desire to incorporate sports with philanthropy drove Scott to create Pledge It, an innovative performance-based fundraising application, in 2014. Through this website, thousands of athletes from all levels of sports can engage their fans to support their needs or a charitable cause.

Scott Shirley attributes much of his inspiration and passion to his alma mater. “Without Penn State, none of this would exist,” he said.

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