From: Alba Mborja
An American Athlete in the Footsteps of Jozefina Topalli and Monika Kryemadhi

John Urschel, American football player at Baltimore Ravens in the American NFL Championship, was a Ph.D. student at the same time that he was a professional player. During the last 2016–2017 season, while playing professionally, he also followed his first year Ph.D. studies in math at MIT, one of the best world universities in the USA.

He kept this fact hidden from his trainer and team members for nearly one year, leading thus a double life. He had an agreement with the university not to physically go to classes, but studied his lectures and the necessary material independently. Of course he was obliged to do his course work and assignments on a regular basis, like the other students..

But, it seemed that the heavy course load was a burden on his life, so this July, he decided to withdraw from sports to completely immerse himself in his studies of mathematics. Only after leaving, Urchel went public that he had led a double life for more than a year.

This is a rare case in USA, but even more so in Albania. Many Albanian politicians, journalists, artists, even business people have followed Ph.D. program, following their passion for knowledge and scientific research, while working full-time every day.

Two famous cases are former Speaker of Parliament and PD deputy Jozefina Topalli and LSI leader Monika Kryemadhi. Both of them didn’t abandon their great passion for science, and finished their Ph.Ds, in Law and Management at University of Tirana, respectively, while representing the Albanian people.

Right after being elected Speaker of Parliament, Topalli became involved in academics. First, she followed her M.A. in European Studies at the University of Tirana. Then in 2010 she enrolled and finished, within the same year, her Ph.D. studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Tirana.

Those who were close with Topalli say that she was so obsessed with her Ph.D. that even while traveling abroad she never forgot to bring her course material with her and pulled all-nighters to finish her assignments.

The Ph.D thesis of Topalli, the The Role of the National Parliament in the EU Integration Process, was supervised by the President of the High Court, Prof. Dr. Xhezair Zaganjori and is widely considered to be a valuable contribution in the European studies, within the broad spectrum of Albanian jurisprudence.

Kryemadhi enrolled in her Ph. D studies at the time she was elected as deputy in 2013, and finished her studies while still in function, in 2016. Her Ph.D thesis, the Analysis of the Social Security System from an Economic and Legal Standpoint, has built the foundations of the Albanian field of Law and Economics, a consolidated field in the academic world that intertwines law and economics, but has remained completely unrecognized in Albania.