ETSU graduate student Kamal Kafle honored as a Troy Polamalu ‘Student of the Year’

Troy Polamalu, strong safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers, played college football at the University of California. Like many NFL players, he left school for the opportunity to play professional football and did not receive a college diploma. Unlike most players, he returned to school and recently earned his college degree.

In honor of the occasion, Polamalu instituted his own “Student of the Year” awards for outstanding elementary, high school and college students.

Dr. Phil Pfeiffer of East Tennessee State University’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences had a graduate student who exemplified the qualities Polamalu outlined. Pfeiffer wanted that student to have a typically American type of recognition.

The student, Kamal Kafle, traveled to ETSU from his home in Nepal, where he had to leave his wife and infant daughter while he sought higher education. Pfeiffer noted in his nomination materials that “In spite of his limited background in software development—a skill our department emphasizes—and his imperfect command of written English—which our department also emphasizes—Kamal ‘quietly’ earned a 3.95 of a possible 4.0 grade point average.” In typical fashion, Kafle earned one of only three As in a class of 17 students by devoting many hours outside of the classroom to mastering the necessary skills for the class.

In addition to taking a full graduate course load, he works 20 hours a week to help put himself through school.

Troy Polamalu must have been impressed. He created a graduate category for his “Student of the Year” program and awarded that position to Kafle. Recently, Kafle received a signed Polamalu football jersey.  

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