Roxi Nurse McNabb was a point guard for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team, a Most Valuable Player, 1997 Athlete of the Year, and a three-time Big East Academic All-Star. She still ranks among Syracuse’s all-time top 10 in career steals (fourth) and assists (fifth).
Nurse McNabb holds a B.S. in Physical Education from the School of Education and two masters’ degrees, including an M.P.A. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The wife of Syracuse Orange legend and Philadelphia Eagles NFL Hall of Famer Donovan McNabb, she served as Assistant Director in the Office of Academic Support at Villanova University.
Editor’s Note: This is a full-length version of a joint interview originally published in edited form in Education Exchange (Summer 2022).Read Education Exchange
Describe your current role and its responsibilities.
I am currently the Executive Director of the Caris Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises funds to remove the financial barriers to sports participation for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade.
How did the School of Education prepare you for this role?
SOE has a hands-on approach to education. I had the opportunity to visit schools within the city of Syracuse and work with students. I learned so many lessons comparing what I thought teaching looked like to what it actually means to teach a child who has not been afforded the same opportunities as other children.
Sports has always been a large part of my life, and I know the benefit sports provide kids. Looking back, I believe that experience built the foundation for me wanting to provide kids with the opportunity to participate in sports, knowing the benefits participation provides.
What current trends do you see in your specialty and how are you addressing them?
The math says that families who can afford to play sports, play sports; those who cannot, do not play. Female athletes are twice as likely to quit sports as their male counterparts. But we also know that 80% of female CEOs participated in a sport at some point. So we are trying to bridge the gaps of making sports affordable for all and keeping female athletes participating.
What activity stood out for you most as a student at SOE?
Student teaching. Not only did student teaching put what we were learning in the classroom into practice, it placed me within the city of Syracuse for an extended period.
As students and student athletes, we spent time within the community, but that was typically for a few hours at a time, then we went back to our apartments on the Hill. But while student teaching, I was able to really see the community through my interactions with students and by talking to teachers. I learned that teaching goes far beyond the classroom, and that implored me to be a larger part of the community that I live in.
Make a pitch for SOE—why should a prospective student choose the School of Education?
Community! As an international student of color, SOE provided an environment where I felt valued as an individual and where my perspective was hea