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‘Why not you?’: Dartmouth sends off Class of ’22

  • Ashley Jones, of Stamford, Conn., gets a congratulatory elbow-bump from Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon after receiving her Master of Business Administration degree during the school’s commencement in Hanover, N.H., on June 12, 2022. Hanlon has announced he will step down as president in June 2023. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • During his commencement speech at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on June 12, 2022, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson speaks about his father, the late Harrison Wilson III. A classmate of President Phil Hanlon and teammate to Dartmouth football coach Buddy Teevens, Harrison Wilson encouraged his son to play football with the saying, “Why not you?” Russell and Ciara Wilson founded the Why Not You Foundation in 2014 to fund pediatric cancer research. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ian Cruz, left, of the Bronx in New York City, watches classmate Josh De La Cruz, of Elmhurst, Ill., photograph the crowd of graduates flowing in for Dartmouth College’s commencement in Hanover, N.H., on June 12, 2022. They earned their Bachelor of Engineering degrees from the school. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • Grammy-winning performer Ciara receives applause from the crowd after being acknowledged by her husband Russell Wilson during his commencement speech at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on June 12, 2022. Wilson’s brother, Harrison Wilson IV, is at left. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bagpiper Josh Marks, of Westchester, N.Y., leads Dartmouth College president Phil Hanlon, faculty and dignitaries through the line of graduates to begin commencement in Hanover, N.H., on June 12, 2022. A 1996 graduate, Marks said he led his class’ procession and every one since. He will be returning for an August celebration of the class of 2020, whose in-person commencement was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2022 11:02:02 PM
Modified: 6/12/2022 11:00:43 PM

HANOVER — Star NFL quarterback Russell Wilson centered his commencement address to the Dartmouth College Class of 2022 around the words his father, a former Big Green football and baseball player, first asked him when he was in high school.

Wilson came to live by those three words — they motivated him to remain a quarterback despite his comparatively short stature for the position; they became the title of a picture book he wrote with his wife, Grammy Award-winning singer Ciara; and they are also the name of his foundation, which strives to fight poverty through education and empower children in underprivileged communities: “Why not you?”

Harrison Wilson, who graduated from Dartmouth in 1977, first posed this question to his son when Russell Wilson was attending the prestigious Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana, after suggesting Russell could play against Peyton and Eli Manning in the NFL — a suggestion Russell greeted with skepticism. But his father’s message has stuck with Wilson ever since, and Wilson urged this year’s Dartmouth graduates to live by that message as well.

“If you’ve got that voice in your head saying, ‘why not you?’ that helps you keep going and it helps you keep working,” Wilson said Sunday morning before the graduates and approximately 8,000 guests gathered on the Green. “Because if you believe all things are possible, that still means you have to put the work in to make it happen. ‘Why not you?’ is a winner’s mentality. It’s about dreaming and delivering. It’s a question that doesn’t just make you confident; it makes you try harder.”

Wilson also shared an excerpt from his father’s favorite poem — Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son.” The poem’s central premise, “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” was apropos of the class of 2022, whose experience on campus was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The elder Wilson, who died in 2010, was a Dartmouth classmate of college president Philip Hanlon and a teammate of current head football coach Buddy Teevens.

Hanlon, who will step down after the 2022-23 academic year, addressed the graduates after they walked across the stage, stressing the importance of continuing to ask questions.

The president was hardly alone in mentioning the pandemic and other national and global issues, but he emphasized that they do not need to have determined their lifelong goals the moment they graduate.

“These are thorny issues for which there are no easy answers. But with the right questions, you can see your way through,” Hanlon encouraged the graduates. “My message to you today is simple: Go into the world, not with all the answers, but with all the questions.”

Melissa Barales-Lopez, a first-generation college student from East Los Angeles, Calif., gave the valedictory address on behalf of herself and the other 12 valedictorians, who all maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout their time at Dartmouth.

Barales-Lopez described breaking down in tears at the airport upon saying goodbye to her family before coming to Hanover for her freshman year, before overcoming feelings of self-doubt during the last four years.

“I’ve since learned that I wasn’t the only person experiencing those emotions,” Barales-Lopez said. “Many of my friends revealed feeling this way throughout much of freshman fall and beyond. Overcoming these feelings is a challenge, and for a long time, I struggled ... to find a home at Dartmouth. However, certain qualities of our school helped me create a sense of belonging.”

Dartmouth College Class of 2022

The following Upper Valley residents graduated from Dartmouth over the weekend: Brianna Michelle Aubrey, White River Junction; William Martinez Boffa, Hanover; Diane Elaina Cammarata, Springfield, Vt.; Matthew Timothy Frates, Woodstock; Margaret Katherine Kotz, Lyme; Jasper Baton Meyer, Lyme; Sophia Anne Miller, Grantham; Samuel Y. Supattapone, Hanover; and Hye Rine Uhm, Hanover.




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