The Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Scholarship Program recently recognized Fort Payne High School senior Arturo Rodriguez's outstanding academic and athletic achievements.
Rodriguez was chosen for the Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Class 6A, Area 15 Achievement and the 6A, Region 8A Achievement.
The Bryant-Jordan Program, named in honor of legendary coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant and Ralph “Shug” Jordan, annually recognizes 52 seniors student-athletes from 52 regions in Alabama, awarding college scholarships to students who are exceptional academically and superior athletes.
“I was surprised to find out that my application made it through the first two roads, and I am looking forward to seeing if I make it any further,” said Rodriguez. “I am very thankful for my school administration, which presented me with the opportunity to apply for this scholarship.”
Fort Payne High School Principal Brian L. Jett said Rodriguez is the type of student FPHS is proud to see represent their school and community.
“Arturo excels not only academically but also athletically and socially. He is a member of the varsity track, cross country and wrestling teams and several of our prestigious organizations like Mu Alpha Theta and National Honor Society,” said Jett.
Rodriguez joined Ider's Kaleigh Carson and Ben Watkins and Fyffe's Jacob Mitchell as Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Program 2021 award winners from DeKalb County.
He was the lone Fort Payne boy to qualify for the state cross country race after a third-place individual finish in the 6A, Section 5 race. The senior finished 30th overall at the state event.
Rodriguez said as someone who likes learning, his educational journey has felt natural, which he attributes to his ability not to get bored, that led him to be curious outside of the classroom, teaching himself one of the infinite subjects he doesn’t yet understand.
“My interests are mainly math and physics and still, I find it fun to look at other areas of study such as political theory or Russian literature,” he said. “I am a little competitive, and I studied diligently to get a 35 on the ACT and to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship competition.”
Rodriguez said cross country, wrestling and track have been an equal if not a more significant part of his high school experience and as this experience nears its end, he is satisfied with the way it turned out.
“I try to live my life with no regrets. I don’t use the phrase to bypass some innate drive within me, that’s simply become the drive itself,” he said. “Failure is a good thing so long as one grows from it.”
This fall, Rodriguez plans to attend William Marsh Rice University, commonly known as Rice University, a private research university in Houston, Texas.
“I am extremely excited for the opportunities I will find there, as I plan to major in math and possibly physics,” he said. “I want to thank my counselors, Mrs. Varnadore and Mrs. Kirby, for having helped me so much this senior year with the college applications process, class scheduling and so much more. I want to acknowledge my FPHS administration as a whole for deciding to nominate me for the Bryant-Jordan scholarship.”
Rodriguez also thanked mentors Jacen Garrett, Amanda Wells and coach Austin Panell for shaping his high school experience for the better and writing him "three great recommendation letters."
“I believe Arturo will be able to achieve any goal which is set before him in college and in life,” said Jett. “I cannot think of a more deserving student. It was an honor to nominate him for the Bryant-Jordan Achievement Award.”
– Editor’s note: Times-Journal Sports Editor Glendon Poe contributed to this article.