After being selected by St. Louis in the 2000 MLB Draft, I chose to sign professionally rather than go to college. At that time, I promised my mom I would earn my degree, so I'm very happy to report that I recently completed my degree. I feel like it was an early Mother's Day present.

It was a big decision at the time. After my junior year of high school, I had made the decision I was going to attend Wake Forest University. Education meant a lot to me and it meant a lot to my parents. But when my senior year came, it became apparent I was going to be drafted and that changed the decision-making process. But I still knew I would eventually pursue a college education.

The decision to go pro was one I made with my family, but I promised Mom I would get that education. We weighed what would happen to me financially, which was a big plus. I knew I would still get a degree; I just didn't know when and how. I saw the signing bonus as a way to pay for that education in lieu of the scholarship I had earned.

I started to take some college classes sporadically here and there early in my Minor League career. There was a time when I was hurt, and I saw that as an opportunity. At that slow pace it would take a long time for me to finish, though, so I decided to accelerate the process. That meant taking classes that crossed over with the baseball season.

In 2003 I talked to my agent, and he suggested enrolling in the the University of Phoenix online program. They had worked with baseball players and other professional athletes, and they were great to work with. We set up the path and the courses I would need to take. Once I started, it took three to four years before it was completed.

My degree is in business management, and my minor is in finance. Those are two areas that always interested me. One day I'd like to own my own business and be able to manage it. Those classes and my experience in baseball have been really helpful. You have to make business and financial decisions as part of this job, so now I can apply what I learned in college.

I found that earning a degree while pursuing a career in baseball requires a lot of dedication and self-discipline. I had to motivate myself quite a bit, but I was pretty driven and I was willing to make some sacrifices. I couldn't always go out with my teammates and friends. I had to go home and study and read and write papers. A lot of my work was due on Mondays, so I really had to balance my school schedule and my baseball schedule.

Of course, I also took courses during the offseason when there was a lot more time and a little less pressure.

Baseball and college really merged for me on Feb. 15. That was not only my first day of Spring Training, but that was also the day I earned my degree. It was a special day for me and my family, as well as a day of reflection. I was ending one chapter of my life and beginning another.

Overall, it was a great experience, and now I'm thinking about trying getting an MBA.

Chris Narveson is 2-0 over 11 appearances, including two starts, this season. The left-hander made his big league debut in 2006, and he's 4-0 with a 4.54 ERA in 37 career games with the Brewers and Cardinals.