This year's Commencement speaker, NFL quarterback Russell Wilson wrote to The Dartmouth to share his advice for the graduating class and what the College means to him.
What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to speak at Dartmouth’s Commencement given your father and uncles’ experiences at Dartmouth?
RW: This is such an honor for me, especially given the history this school has within my own family. My dad and three of my uncles went here and to be given the opportunity to be on the stage in a few weeks means so much to me. My father made me the man I am today so I’m looking forward to walking in his footsteps in this special way.
What advice do you have for Dartmouth graduates?
RW: I want these graduates to know that they can achieve whatever they put their mind and energy towards. I want them to think about the term I use most – why not you? – because it resonates for all of us. “Why Not You?” is something my Dad used to always say to me. When we talked about what I wanted out of life, he’d always look at me and say “Why not you, son?” There is no obstacle we can’t overcome if we persevere. To be able to pass along the same message at a place that was so special to my dad, uncles and family is so meaningful to me.
How do you keep your goals at the forefront of your mind, particularly with tremendous outside pressure?
RW: I live my life by thinking neutral. It’s something important that my close friend, the late Trevor Moawad taught me. Whether it’s something amazing in your life that happens or something really difficult, we have to remain neutral and that’s how I find peace in everything I do, including the outside pressures of the world.
You’re experiencing a large change in your life moving from your long-term home of Seattle and the Seahawks to Denver and the Broncos. For a lot of students, graduation means moving on from life as we know it. How do you navigate major change?
RW: Any change in life can be the beginning of a new incredible chapter – whether new job or starting a family or moving to a new city. It can be scary at times, but I always have faith that if you persevere and keep that neutral mindset, everything will work out the way it is meant to.
Regarding your move, how have you been able to stay connected with your former teammates and coaches?
RW: The ten years I spent playing in Seattle will stay with me forever. The fans, the teammates, the coaches – I carry all of them with me and I’m continuing to stay in touch with them.
You’ve shown dedication to community service through The Why Not You Foundation, what would you say to a Dartmouth student to inspire them to build and serve communities like you have?
RW: I want to inspire this next generation to go out and serve, to be leaders for their community that the next generation can look up to. It’s so important for us to be there for one another, especially in light of all the struggles we’ve been through in the last two years.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.