Another life milestone for son
It was with enormous pride that I watched my son graduate this past weekend from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with family and friends cheering him on.
Behind the backdrop of the famous Camp Randall Stadium, more than 5,000 graduates received their degrees with about 50,000 people in attendance. My son earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He hopes to share his talents and abilities in the commercial real estate business.
While it’s exciting to see my son’s accomplishment, it’s a little scary to think I now have two children who have graduated from college. It’s even scarier to think I graduated from college almost 30 years ago.
One of the highlights of the graduation ceremony was the guest speaker, J.J. Watt, a star football player with the Houston Texans. He came back to his alma mater at the University of Wisconsin where he played two seasons of college football. His theme was, “Dream Big, Work Hard.”
Watt shared a strong message about how the University of Wisconsin shaped him into the person he is today. He did it without any prepared notes or teleprompter. He said he had to turn away speech writers who wanted to help him because he felt people wanted to hear what he had to say and not other people. The NFL legend certainly didn’t disappoint anyone during his speech.
Watt told the audience, “I truly believe that you should have as big of dreams as you want in this world. Never let anyone tell you you can’t accomplish those dreams.”
To accomplish those dreams, he said, you must be willing to put in the work, the time, the effort, the energy and the sacrifices. He stressed the path to those dreams often never goes the way you envision it to. “It will be difficult. It will not look the way you want I to look, but in the end, if you stay focused, if you stay true, if you have the passion for your dream, you will get there no matter how difficult the path will be,” he said.
No one accomplishes their dreams on their own. “You need help, both good and bad, and positive and negative,” he said. “You can use negative energy to power your dream. It will not look the way you want it to look, but in the end, if you stay focused, if you stay true, if you have the passion for your dream, you will get there.”
A few years ago Watt was devastated by an injury. At about the same time, his girlfriend was also injured. He related how he felt bad about not being able to help her as much as he wanted to.
“No matter how big you are, no matter how strong you are, no matter how tough you may be, everyone needs to ask for help at some point in their life,” said Watt.
He said on the path to your dreams, you will not do it alone. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Watt said. There is no reason why we can’t help each other accomplish our dreams.”
Watt implored people to try and change the world for the better as they go. “If we each do a little bit, if we each try and help each other out, if we’re each not afraid to ask for help, we can do some unbelievable things,” Watt said. “Together we can change the world one person at a time.”
His message certainly sets the tone for all high school and college aged graduates this graduation season.
I hope graduates, my son included, will go in hot pursuit of accomplishing their dreams knowing that the path likely won’t always be easy.