ASU graduate student Bill Rogers recognized for overcoming adversity and earning his Nelson Mandela Freedom Award

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Rogers plans to continue being an inspiration for the younger generation of athletes

SAN ANGELO, Texas – When you look at overcoming adversity, you usually look for stories of others who’ve mastered it. Angelo State graduate student Bill Rogers is a prime example. Coming from Liberia, everything changed when he enrolled in the coaching, sport, recreation and fitness program led by Doctor Warren Simpson.

“Coming back to graduate school, I would’ve never thought of that,” Rogers said. “But when Doctor Simpson did an interview, it grabbed my attention. He said Bill, you are the perfect fit. I tried to describe it into my brain, ‘I have the perfect fit?’ That alone meant a lot to me.”

At a young age, Rogers excelled in running track and eventually became a world class distance runner. In 2007, he competed in the IAAF World Cross Country Running Championship and even held the Liberian national record in the 1,500 meters.

“The former President Nelson Mandela said sports is the power that transforms the universe and brings young people together,” Rogers said. “I have believed in the power of sports because you can see what I can show you as a perfect example. They chopped my toes, but I never stopped and I continued to run.”

Rogers received his Nelson Mandela Freedom Award over the summer at the annual “We Dream in Color Humanitarian Celebration” in Chicago. The event was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, but there’s plans of the award ceremony to take place in Liberia this November.

“I’m grateful to be in the program,” Rogers said. “I want to represent the institution as much as I can to give that additional recognition. As they continue to build me up in society, I’ll continue to set an example for the rest of the kids in society.”

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