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ASU student: 'There is no limit to what you are able to achieve'

Kordell Caldwell does a free-style performance at ASU's Fall Welcome.

November 20, 2017

As a walk-on for the Sun Devils football team, an aspiring musician and lyricist, and a scrupulous student, political science major Kordell Caldwell aspires to make the most of his time at Arizona State University.

Caldwell’s drive to succeed, however, did not start at ASU; it started when he was a young child growing up in Dallas, and later, Houston. An entertainer with charismatic flair, Caldwell found joy in football and school.

Thanks to Caldwell’s academic success as a pre-teen, he received an invitation to take part in both the Duke Talent Identification Program and later in a law clinic held at Stanford. At Duke, he discovered an interest in political science, deciding then to use the program as a vehicle to law school.

While attending high school in Houston, Caldwell began experimenting with music. At first, he rapped over existing melodies and beats. As his interest grew, he moved on to creating his own instrumentals with his closest friend. While talking about his music, Caldwell discussed his musical roots and inspirations, including rapper Lecrae.

Caldwell strives to make music that appeals to a broader audience, relying upon his SoundCloud and social media accounts to spread his homegrown rap to his listeners.

“[I rely on] word of mouth and meeting people,” Caldwell said. “It lets me show people that I’m serious about my craft.”

During his junior year of high school, both Stanford University and the University of Washington were recruiting Caldwell for their football programs.

“I pulled my hamstring at a camp [one week before my visit to Stanford], and I was devastated,” he recalled.

Caldwell still attended the two camps, while trying to get his leg as healthy as possible before playing. However, Caldwell did not make the cut, so he began to look at schools based on where he wanted to be later in life. He decided on ASU, considering a number of factors such as former alumni and networking connections, career opportunities, and the school’s Division I football program.

Once at ASU, Caldwell joined the political science program and continued his workouts on his own, working toward his lifelong dream of playing D1 football.

“I was keeping my mind focused on the goal, trying to eat right, trying to stay in shape. Once spring came, I was in lock-in mode. I was focused on nothing but … making the team.”

Despite having sustained a hamstring injury, Caldwell passed tryouts and walked on to become a member of the Sun Devil football team.

“I received an email that said ‘Congratulations’… I barely finished skimming the email before I picked up the phone to call my parents.”

After college, Cordell hopes to work as a defense attorney in criminal court. Citing "The Reversal," a novel written by Michael Connelly, Cordell discussed the rights of the people to have a voice in the criminal justice system. "The Innocence Project" has also inspired Cordell, who hopes to aid individuals who are wrongly accused of a crime they did not commit.

Caldwell emphasized the importance of seizing the windows of opportunity that open throughout college. With enough discipline and grit, he believes there is no limit to what can be achieved. For those who wish to pursue their dreams, who wish to follow a path similar to his, Caldwell has this to say: “You can’t change the past, but you can make history.”

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