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When Mike (Pops) Adams stepped onto the University of Delaware campus as a freshman in 1999, he knew things would be different. Adams had grown up in Paterson, N.J., one of seven children in a three-bedroom apartment.  Drug dealers were everywhere and the likelihood of going to jail or being shot was high.  

On April 19, Adams, a National Football League veteran of nine years and a leader on the Blue Hens’ 2003 national championship team, spoke at UD, explaining, “I didn’t expect the culture shock to be so extreme.  But honestly, the only white people we ever saw in my neighborhood were landlords or people coming to buy drugs.”

During his symposium, entitled “Reaching Back, While Moving Forward,” Adams told the audience at the Perkins Student Center how he was able to parlay his skills on the football field into a better life.  

His goal was to graduate. It wasn’t easy, as he struggled to select a major, adapt to a different lifestyle, rehab through injuries and deal with painful family issues. But whether providing a hug or a much needed talking-to, Adams found the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) faculty and advisers were always there to give him the support he needed to succeed.  

Now he is dedicated to giving back to the community. He has started a foundation called Rising Stars to support children in his hometown.  

Read more in UDaily “Bronco bucks poverty.”