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Frazier earns master's degree

Dragons DE is more than just a football player

SEATTLE ­­– Marcell Frazier needed to go home. He needed to make the drive south on I-5 to Portland, Ore. He needed to see it for himself.

So, after the Dragons finished their team lift on Sunday, he made the drive to pick up his master’s degree diploma from the University of Missouri.

When he picked up that precious piece of paper, he thought back to all the people who told him he was only a football player.

“When I saw the paper copy, I literally remember people telling me, ‘Oh, you’re just going to Mizzou for football. All of you guys are the same,’” he said.

But there was one voice, one person from his past that kept running through his mind as he looked at his degree. It was “a guy from my community” who once said, “good luck with all those unfinished degrees.”

When he thought about that voice, the doubt that guy from the neighborhood tried to sow, Frazier smiled.

“I remember his voice playing back in my head and feeling super gratified to get it (the diploma),” he said.

In fact, that voice helped push Frazier to finish his master’s degree in education while also pursuing his football dreams.

“I kind of carried a chip on my shoulder when I was finishing the program,” he said. “I want to set a standard for my family.”

Once he was able to see the diploma in person, he took a photo and shared it on social media.

“I finally made it home to see this bad boy in person for the first time,” he tweeted.

Frazier started working on his master’s degree after finishing his senior season at Missouri in 2017. He was able to take some classes, get tutoring and work with mentors while he was still on campus and, when it was time to pursue his NFL goals, he shifted his studies to online courses, taking a break while working to make the Cleveland Browns.

He picked up his online courses last spring and is now a newly minted graduate.

“It’s big to set your adult life up for when you hit your 30s and 40s, so you have something to fall back on,” he said. “Me and my sister got it at the same time. We were in a race to see who would get it first.

“It was a personal challenge we had.”

Frazier’s sister, Michelle, now has a master’s in social work, so their friendly competition helped push them both over the finish line.

“My parents didn’t graduate from college,” Frazier said. “My mom didn’t graduate from high school, so it was a personal challenge we had with each other.”

Mission accomplished.

Frazier said he chose education for two reason. No. 1, he had mentors who guided him that way. But, No. 2, he wanted to be able to one day help younger generations in his community.

“I just wanted to be in the system and give back to the kids,” he said. “I come from a disenfranchised community. We have a lot of successful people who come from the community, but we also have a lot of very unsuccessful people. I just wanted to be present in my community.”

When Frazier graduated from high school, he spent one season at College of the Siskiyous. He figured he would spend a season at Missouri and then move on to the NFL. Things didn’t go according to plan, but his three years in Columbia, Mo. helped him focus on academics.

In fact, Frazier credits former Missouri head coach Barry Odom for helping Frazier get to where he is today.

“I’m thankful for Barry Odom,” he said. “He pushed academics on us. He always pushed education.”

But, while he put himself into a strong position to be successful once his football career ends, he doesn’t plan on giving up the game anytime soon.

“It’s the best thing in the world,” Frazier said. “To still be able to follow your true passion, while knowing that, one day, when you lose the game, you have something. You can walk into a career a little bit easier – there’s still going to be bumps in the road – and, hopefully, the transition doesn’t happen for 10 years, but when it happens, it will be seamless.”

Frazier has football. He has his future. He has the satisfaction he proved wrong those who doubted him.

His master’s diploma is a reminder of where he’s been and where he’s headed.

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