The 10 Most Highly Educated Members of Team USA

Forget all those “dumb jock” stereotypes! Many of the athletes competing for Team USA at the summer Olympics in Rio have proven themselves as adept in the classroom as they are in the competitive arena. Here’s a look at 10 studious standouts:

Rank Athlete Sport University/College
1 Sean Furey Track and Field Dartmouth
2 Carmen Farmer Rugby Virginia Tech University & University of Maryland-Baltimore
3 Anthony Erwin Swimming UC Berkeley
4 Lauren Fendrick Beach Volleyball UC Los Angeles & University of Southern California
5 Charlie Cole Rowing Yale & University of Oxford
6 Gevvie Stone Rowing Princeton University & Tufts University
7 Ryan Carlyle Rugby University of South Carolina & DeVry University
8 Joey Maloy Triathlon Boston College
9 Chaunte Lowe Track and Field Georgia Tech & Western Governors University & Keller Graduate School of Management
10 Kara Winger Track and Field Purdue University & DeVry University

10. Kara Winger, Track and Field

Undergraduate Studies: Purdue University, ’09; nutrition, fitness, and health

Graduate Studies: DeVry University, accounting

Kara Winger
Kara Winger by Berend Stettler

Winger was the first woman to represent her university (Purdue) in track and field at the Olympics. Being the American record holder is not enough – this javelin thrower hopes that the third time is the charm for medaling when she competes in Rio this week. Also similar to Lowe, this six-time national champion found online graduate studies were the best fit for being an international caliber, student-athlete. She began studying through DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management in 2013 while rehabbing an ACL injury through the university’s partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

9. Chaunte Lowe, Track and Field

Undergraduate Studies: Georgia Tech, ’06, economics/finance

Graduate Studies: Western Governors University, mathematics education;

Keller Graduate School of Managementaccounting and financial management

Chaunte Lowe
Chaunte Lowe by Grzegorz Jereczek

Lowe was only 20 years old when she became the first woman from Georgia Tech’s track and field team to make the Olympics. Now a mother of three, the high jumper extraordinaire hopes to medal in her fourth trip to the games. Along the way, she discovered that pursuing an online degree is a great option for a busy athlete who travels often. And days after returning from the 2012 Olympic Games, she started teaching trigonometry at an Atlanta high school. Her newest venture will be accounting classes to work with Ameritrade in devising a program to help athletes become financially literate – a cause near to her heart since losing two homes to foreclosure early in her career. Currently, Chaunte Lowe is a student at DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management where she is pursuing a master’s degree in accounting and financial management.

8. Joe Maloy, Triathlon

Undergraduate Studies: Boston College ’08, English

Graduate Studies: Boston College ’10, administration

Though Maloy never visited Boston College before he applied, the high school standout with 12 varsity letters ended up liking the place so much that he pursued a masters degree in administration there as well. He also saw academic success as a member of the ACC All-Academic Team in both 2007 and 2008. In addition to being a four-year varsity swimmer for the Eagles, he served as a campus recreation spinning instructor. He won the USA Triathlon National Age Group Championship in 2009 and has competed in 17 countries on five different continents.

7. Ryan Carlyle, Rugby

Undergraduate Studies: University of South Carolina ’11, sport and entertainment management

Graduate Studies: DeVry University ’14, international business

University of South Carolina
University of South Carolina by jay8085

Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, as Carlyle can attest. The multi-talented athlete received an introduction to the sport of rugby while in Australia during her sophomore year of college. Upon her return, she tried out for the team at University of South Carolina. Soon gaining attention for her natural abilities, she was selected to the South All Star Team as one of the best female players in the region. But neither her academic nor her athletic career were over after graduating from USC. As a recipient of the United States Olympic Committee/DeVry Academic Partnership Scholarship, Carlyle completed her graduate studies in International Business online while training full-time for Rio. Now a marketing manager for the sports education and technology company ATAVUS, Carlyle is the perfect student-athlete role model to re-introduce American youth to this challenging sport as it makes its return to the Olympics in Rio for the first time since 1924.

6. Gevvie Stone, Rowing

Undergraduate Studies: Princeton University ’07, pre-med

Graduate Studies: Tufts University ’14, medicine

After being part of an undefeated national championship women’s eight crew at Princeton University and winning two world championships in the under-23 competition, the 2008 Olympics looked like the natural next step for this ambitious athlete. However, Stone failed to make the U.S. team and instead worked as a camp counselor while others competed in Beijing. After becoming tempted to give up the sport, a youngster at Camp Onaway made her a paper boat with the words “2012 Olympian” on it. The hope that young camper embraced helped motivate Stone to continue training for London. That same year, her dream of attending medical school also became a reality. Stone finished seventh in women’s single sculls at the London Olympics in 2012 and still knew there was more for her in the sport. Stone found more Olympic success in Rio by winning a silver medal in women’s single sculls. And when she returns home, Stone will begin another highly competitive process – applying to residencies in orthopedic surgery.

5. Charlie Cole, Rowing

Undergraduate Studies: Yale University ’07, history

Graduate Studies: University of Oxford ’08, environmental policy

Cole began rowing his freshman year at New Canaan High School, because he wanted to participate in a fall sport. However, he soon felt he made a mistake because rowing was so difficult, but his parents refused to let him quit. His natural talent and hard work led him to varsity letters in crew all four years. Clearly, his brains were as good as his brawn as he then headed to nearby Yale University to row for the Bulldogs until his graduation in 2007. Though he did not make the 2008 Olympic Team, he continued to train and rowed in seven-seat of the Oxford Blue Boat that won the 154th Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. In 2011, he was named U.S. Rowing’s athlete of the year. He continued the success with his first Olympic appearance in London in 2012, where he took home a bronze medal in the men’s coxless four. To help middle and high school students achieve success, Cole and fellow rower Jake Cornelius launched Milestone Academic Counseling in 2009. The venture, based on their own experiences, provides individualized instruction centered around key areas such as organization, time management, and critical thinking.

4. Lauren Fendrick, Beach Volleyball

Undergraduate Studies: University of California Los Angeles ’03, communications studies

Graduate Studies: University of Southern California ’10, law

How do you follow up a high school career in which you excelled in virtually every sport offered and posted a 4.74 GPA on a 4.0 scale? You head to UCLA and graduate magna cum laude, earn All-Pac 10 honors for volleyball each year, and help the Bruins to a runner-up finish in the 1999 NCAA Softball Championship. Then you earn a Pac 10 post-graduate scholarship, study law at USC, and pass the bar the year after receiving your degree. Now with the help of partner Brooke Sweat and husband Andrew Fuller (himself a beach volleyball player and USC coach), Fendrick hopes to add Olympic glory to her already impressive resume.

3. Anthony Ervin, Swimming

Undergraduate Studies: University of California Berkeley ’10, English

Graduate Studies: University of California Berkeley; sport, culture and education

Ervin knows a thing or two about the power of both academics and sports. During his first stint at Berkeley, he set a world record of 21.21 in the 50-meter freestyle at the NCAA championships. He followed that up with an Olympic gold in the same event in Sydney. But at age 22, Ervin left the sport of swimming. Drug abuse, homelessness, and difficulty holding a job plagued him for years. In 2008, though, he re-enrolled at Cal to study literature. Three years later, he decided to give swimming another try. Despite his past and his age, he finished fifth in the 50-meters at the 2012 London Olympics. Now Ervin has two new ventures that lie ahead – earning a gold in Rio to replace the one he sold on eBay to help tsunami victims and pursuing a graduate degree in sport, culture, and education at Cal.

2. Carmen Farmer, Rugby

Undergraduate Studies: Virginia Tech University ’03, public and urban affairs

Graduate Studies: University of Maryland-Baltimore ’06, law

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech University by Kate Wellington

Proving you’re never too old to learn new things, Carmen Farmer did not start her rugby career until the age of 31. The former college softball standout – she received a full ride to Virginia Tech – was simply looking for something to quench her thirst for athletic competition when a friend suggested the sport. Farmer soon became a standout for Severn River, a women’s rugby team in Annapolis. She later moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California. Her Olympic dream, however, did not mean an end to her law career. The amazing multitasker got up hours before her teammates each morning to work remotely for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.

1. Sean Furey, Track and Field

Undergraduate Studies: Dartmouth College ’04, mechanical engineering

Graduate Studies: Dartmouth College ’05, engineering management

There’s good reason why the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association chose Furey as Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2005. The 6’2” athlete established a school record in the javelin during his time at Dartmouth and took third place at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships. And, oh yeah, he earned a 3.8 GPA at one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation. Though Furey has moved from the lush greenery of Hanover, N.H., to live and train in San Diego, his pursuits remain similar. In Rio, he hopes to improve upon the 37th-place finish at his first Olympic experience in London. And his engineering skills continue to be put to the test too as a mechanical engineer at Raytheon where he bomb-proofs electronics for the United States Navy!