Dan Persa earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Northwestern in June of 2011. Last spring, he was one of just seven NU football players to be named a 2010-11 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, which recognizes student-athletes with a GPA of at least 3.7 for the previous academic year. He has earned Academic All-Big Ten honors on three occasions and is a Capital One Academic All-America candidate in 2011.
In addition to being a two-year captain for Northwestern, Dan Persa recently became the first player to be elected (by his teammates) to NU's 10-player Leadership Council in four straight years. He also was selected as Northwestern's National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy nominee, an award that recognizes a student-athlete's commitment in the classroom and in the community.
Dan has always been regarded by his teammates as one of the most dedicated members of the team, best exemplified by his twice winning NU's "Top 'Cat" award, given to the hardest-working performer in the weight room. After suffering his season-ending injury last November, he worked tirelessly to rehab his Achilles tendon while also taking on the responsibility of mentoring his young replacements at quarterback during NU's bowl preparation and ensuing spring practice.
Dan has been active in community outreach in the Chicagoland area, visiting elementary schools and middle schools on numerous occasions to speak to the students about the importance of academics and a healthy lifestyle. He did so memorably on National Student-Athlete Day, informing youngsters of the perks but also the responsibilities that go along with being a Division I student-athlete:
This is mid-morning on Wednesday, April 6, which has been designated National Student-Athlete Day, and now Dan Persa and the lacrosse player Maria Tedeschi are heading toward the front door of Central School. This is how they will commemorate this day, by advising children, and here Persa is saying, "I always like to talk to kids for the simple fact that I would have liked to have been talked to. I think it would have helped me out a little bit. They could have laid out the things I didn't know. When you're growing up, you're kind of afraid of what you're not sure of, and maybe they could have given me information on stuff that would have been really helpful."
What message will he try to deliver?
"Just to enjoy it and keep themselves as busy as possible and be involved in as many things as possible to find out what they like and don't like. I think that's the best way to do it."
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