UNA alum Evan Oglesby was recently awarded the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Award for his contributions through the Evan Oglesby (EO) Foundation.

UNA Alum Awarded Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award

Jan. 03, 2024

Ella G. Stephenson , at estephenson5@una.edu

University of North Alabama alum Evan Oglesby was recently awarded the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Award for his contributions through the Evan Oglesby (EO) Foundation. The ceremony took place at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. 

Oglesby is a 2007 graduate of the Sanders College of Business and Technology where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is a former board member UNA Alumni Association and was inducted into the North Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015 for his four-year football career at the University.

In 2005, the All-American defensive back was signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. During his career in the National Football League, Oglesby played for the Baltimore Ravens (’05-’06, ’08), the Dallas Cowboys (’07), and the Miami Dolphins (’09-’10). 

The Evan Oglesby Foundation was established in 2006 to provide educational, athletic, and social growth opportunities to children, primarily in small, rural towns all over the United States. The foundation strives to address issues and obstacles faced by children by getting to know the children personally and bringing much-needed resources to help them grow. Here is Evan in his own words: 

Q: How did the University of North Alabama prepare you for your career and achievements?

A: The University of North Alabama gave me the opportunity to get an education. It developed my ability to learn. It heightened my sense of curiosity. It enhanced my social skills and emotional intelligence and also gave me a platform to display my talents on a national stage.

Q: What is your fondest UNA memory?

A: I have so many. We can start by socializing on the wall in front of Rivers Hall. A group called “Word of Mouth” used to offer open mic nights to the students in Powers Hall for poetry and entertainment. We used to go bowling, fishing, and skating with teammates, eating until our stomachs hurt at Ryan’s Restaurant, and taking large to-go places home with steaks, but the fondest memory is winning the Gulf South Conference Championship and celebrating on Valdosta State field. 

Q: How did your football career at UNA help prepare you for your career in the NFL?

A: UNA gave me the opportunity to play at the collegiate level and display my talent on a national state. Playing at UNA gave me the structure, the discipline, and also the determination to go beyond expectations. 

Q: How was your experience and time in the NFL?

A: It was an unbelievable experience. You are in the locker rooms with players you idolized and watched while growing up. You are playing in front of millions of people. You are able to help support yourself and your family. It supplied me with a head start in the game of life. It also was a testament to how determined and disciplined I had to be to make it to the NFL, despite not attending a D1 institution. 

Q: Did any mentors guide or inspire you in your career path?

A: I had several mentors to help guide me while attending UNA. Linda James, Wanda Leonard, Gloria Grant, Bishop Kobe Fitzgerald, Angie Pickens, Audrey Mitchell, Steve Pierce, and my roommate, Ja’Marcus Snipes, and many more all played a major role in my journey. But Coach Brian Jean Mary was the one that changed my life mentally. He was the mentor I had been searching for, and his message to me was “you are fine just being a good athlete; you don’t want to be great” and “you are comfortable with just being good, and that changed the way I approached school with my assignments and grades. It changed the way I approached football and the preparation to dominate, and it changed with way I approached the game of life. Looking back, UNA was the perfect fit for me because it provided a village for me to give me the opportunity I needed to excel. 

Q: What led you to create your foundation?

A: My grandmother was a foster parent, and we had different kids stay with her all the time. I thought it was great because I always had someone to play with outside of my siblings. Living in a small town with minimal resources, especially programs designed for youth to dream big, I never met any professional athletes until I was a collegiate athlete. I promised myself that, if I ever made it to the professional level, I would come back and have programs for underserved kids. That’s what led to the birth of the Evan Oglesby Foundation. The EO Foundation stands for Educational Opportunity – using our athletic ability to provide a college education. 

Q: When did you decide to create your foundation?

A: Actually, the EO Foundation was created when I was nine years old while attending the Boys and Girls Club. It was a fun place to go after school, but I wanted to learn more about skill development and sports performance. I created my foundation while attending the club, and I have implemented a lot of the things they offer while adding a few of mine that would differentiate my foundation. While attending UNA, I worked at the local YMCA as a summer camp counselor to learn how to coordinate and operate summer camps. 

Q: Are there any upcoming events or long-term goals for your foundation?

A: I would love to partner with UNA and start sports camps and enrichment programs for the youth to be inspired and develop them to achieve excellence. Long-term goal is to have a facility that offers our after-school program and athletic programs for the youth in the Shoals area. 

Q: What message would you like to send to UNA students?

A: My message to students would be to operate in their potential. There are two types of people. You have people who get they life they want, and they you have everybody else. Life is challenging for a bunch of people, good for a lot of people, and great for a few. You have to decide where you want to be. Stay focused on operate in the framework of thinking.

About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering credential, certificate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; Business and Technology; Education and Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. The first-choice University for more than 10,000 on-campus and online students, UNA is on a bucolic campus in Florence, Alabama, part of the historic and vibrant Shoals region. Lions Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/