Pontiac, MI June 8, 2015 – The Gridiron Leaders Foundation (GLF), a Michigan-based 501 (c) 3 aimed at sending former NCAA American football players to China to serve as educational and cultural ambassadors, today announced the inaugural China Gridiron Fellowship Class for the 2015-2016 program. The fellows are:
Darien Bryant (Vanderbilt University, DE, Business Administration)
Vladimir Emilien (University of Michigan, S, Performing Arts & Entrepreneurship)
Cameron Fitch (University of Virginia, DE, Athletic Administration)
Floyd Simmons (University of Michigan, S, Non-Profit Management)
Each fellow will be awarded a grant from the foundation that covers the full costs of travel and living expense during the nine-month program in China. Fellows will spend their time studying Mandarin Chinese, working in a professional job placement and mentoring and coaching a grassroots Chinese football team.
“The applicant pool was much larger than we expected for our first year,” said Chris McLaurin, GLF Co-Founder and former University of Michigan student-athlete. “We were excited to see how many fantastic applicants we had and are proud to make this final announcement after a long but inspiring interview process. Our team is looking forward to seeing these young professionals gain leadership experience and exposure to Chinese language and culture during their nine months in China.”
Fellows were selected based on their personal statement, academic merit, professional achievements, community impact, and leadership ability. Candidates are first nominated by their university athletic department and then undergo three rounds of intensive interviews before being selected as fellows of the foundation. GLF is a unique, first-of-its-kind program that is a product of both a growing interest among Chinese in American football, and a need for young, bright professionals to strengthen US-China relations through Mandarin language learning and cultural immersion.
GLF has assembled an international team to facilitate the program, with team members and advisors spanning multiple cities across China and the United States. The team was able to facilitate this first cohort and is poised to grow the organization’s scope.
“What these young men are doing is truly inspiring and worth our attention and support both in China and the United States,” said Ron Xu, Founding Partner of Sphere Logic Partners Law Firm and a Director on the GLF Board. “I am proud to be an active advisor to the foundation and look forward to seeing what an impact this leadership program will make on people-to-people and government relations between the U.S. and China.”
About Gridiron Leaders Foundation
Gridiron Leaders Foundation (GLF) is a Michigan-based 501 (c) 3 committed to international education of former gridiron leaders. GLF strives to use football as a vehicle for meaningful professional development, cultural understanding and intelligent people-to people diplomacy between the United States and China.
For more information about Gridiron Leaders Foundation, please visit www.chinagridiron.org.
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