Father Jenkins, Board of Trustees, esteemed faculty, class of 2022 and Archbishop – great pass, by the way. I scored a lot of touchdowns in this stadium and that was an impressive pass.
But this class, we will go for 2…as the class of 2022.
Before I start, I want to say a special thank you to lovely wife Trameka, my daughter Jada and my son Jerome for allowing me to make this dream day a reality. Please believe me, this will not take very long, because unlike you, I have been waiting 28 years to celebrate this moment.
And for those of you in the class if you’re asking, wondering who is this old guy up here you’re graduating with, I just want to tell you a little of my story. It’s really pretty simple. I came here back in 1990 with every intention to graduate. But after three amazing seasons, the NFL and its fortunes came calling. And I left. But I promised my mother that I would graduate, but I took a long road. After a 13 year career, a Super Bowl victory and induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I returned to finish my degree. Mom – promise made, promise kept!
With apologies to the class of 1994, I am proud to be a graduate in the class of 2022. Now given my story, I believe I’m in the unique position to give a few words of wisdom to you my fellow classmates. Know that your future is bright. You made a great decision coming to and graduating from the University of Notre Dame. But I ask you the same question that was asked of me almost 30 years ago.
What will your legacy be?
As you leave here today, you will be writing your legacy, one with the class of 2022 the other with your personal journey. Collectively, we all help create the legacy of the 2022 class with what we do with our lives and how we affect the world around us.
First, I want to talk about your personal legacy and how it will be written. But please understand it would not be how much money you made but the difference you made in someone’s life. Not the political policies that I’m sure you will no doubt change, but the amount of lives that you will somehow change. Not the assets that you will acquire in a lifetime but your ability to be an asset in someone else’s. And not your ability to raise capital, but your ability to raise your children with humility, empathy and love. This is how your legacy will be written.
Take it from me. I got about 30 years head start. And don’t forget, like Mr. Jay Jordan, don’t forget the University and our collective legacy will be one that we strengthen Her doors in order to preserve the next generation’s opportunities to change the world. If we can do this, collectively, our legacy will be written as the best class in the history of Notre Dame. The class of 2022! Go Irish!