Dartmouth College Honors Russell Wilson With Humane Letters Doctorate

(Video) Russell Wilson Receives Honorary Doctorate In Humane Letters From Dartmouth College

That’s Doctor Russell Wilson to y’all! Over the weekend, the NFL star added another accomplishment to his stacked resume. Before delivering a commencement speech to Dartmouth’s Class of 2022, President Philip J. Hanlon presented Russell with his physical takeaway for the occasion. Dartmouth University, an institution previously attended by Russell’s family members, honored Russell with a doctorate in Humane Letters.

College Honors Russell With Doctorate

Dartmouth’s president listed plenty of Russell’s accomplishments when presenting him with his honorary doctorate. Some you may remember: NFL Rookie of the Year, nine-time Pro-Bowler, and helped lead the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl championship. In addition, the NFL awarded the father the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. But then, there are Russell’s accomplishments off the field, which include starting a non-profit for educational advancement.  

“For your poise, leadership, and sportsmanship, both on and off the field, for your commitment to improving the lives of others, and for your belief in the power of positivity in helping people reach their full potential, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters,” President Philip said.


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Russell’s Family History At Dartmouth College

Russell began his nearly nineteen-minute speech by name-dropping his wife, Ciara. He joked about people introducing him as Ciara’s husband and acknowledged her presence in the crowd. Ciara smiled and laughed at the mention, as seen in footage shared by the college.

The superstar athlete then dedicated much of his speech to his deceased father, Harrison Benjamin Wilson III, who graduated from Dartmouth in 1977. Russell’s uncles were also Dartmouth College graduates in classes of 1973, 1980, and 1985.

“But graduates, if there’s one thing I hope to accomplish [on the day of commencement], it’s to challenge you not to wait to think about what your legacy will be,” Russell said. “Because legacy isn’t just something you leave behind. It’s something you build. Something you add to, every day.”


Later in his speech, Russell said his father helped him believe in his dreams with the three-word question, “why not you?” The Denver Broncos player said his dad’s question keeps him moving past any doubt from himself and others.

“Staying at quarterback instead of switching positions. Why not you? Building businesses: why not you? Playing in the NFL. Winning a Super Bowl. Why not you,” Russell said.

Russell Says His Dad’s Words Gave Him The Confidence To Pursue Ciara

Then, in another shout-out to his wife, Russell joked about telling himself, “why not you” when he realized he wanted to be with CiCi.

“See this hot, long-legged singer named Ciara for the first time in a music video, her little smirk of a smile: “C’mon, Russ. Why not you,” Russell said.


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The couple joined resources in 2014 and launched the Why Not You Foundation. According to Dartmouth College’s doctorate introduction, the foundation has raised more than $10 million for pediatric cancer. Additionally, the org has fostered educational opportunities for Seattle’s underserved youth, including the opening of the Why Not You Academy, a tuition-free charter high school, in 2021.


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“And if you ask yourself, ‘Why not me?’ If you remember the king and queen in every crowd. If you carry yourself as though your name carries weight,” Russell told the graduates. “Then you’ll live a life–and build a legacy –you can be proud of.”

Watch the full commencement speech:

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