Tennessee Titans Safety Chris Hope Says Education, Not Football, is the Pathway to Success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It sometimes takes one bright student who has been through the “trenches” to get the message across to another smart student about the pathway to a successful future.

Chris Hope
Chris Hope

That’s what happened at Tennessee State University today when the University’s Honors students got a message they will not soon forget. The “unlikely messenger” – Tennessee Titans Safety Chris Hope. Although the Super Bowl winner and former Pittsburgh Steeler has amassed wealth, fortune and recognition as an NFL player, he was not at TSU to talk about football.

“Education is what I am here to talk about,” said 12-year NFL veteran and Pro Bowler with the Titans, who was asked to make a statement at the Honors Day Convocation. “I have always loved playing football, but I never forgot about the importance of a quality education as something to fall back on. The average span of an NFL career is three years. I always knew I was just one hit away from permanent injury. I have been fortunate to play for 12 years, but what if my playing had been cut short and I did not have the education to cope?”

That question left Jaquantey Bowens, of Indianapolis, to rethink his approach in preparing for the future. Although the freshman Cell Biology major with a perfect 4.0 grade point average said he is not much on athletics, Hope’s lecture on education and success hit a nerve.

“I study hard and meet all of my course objectives, but listening to him (Hope) makes me want to work even harder,” said Bowens who wants to be a cardiologist because heart disease is prevalent in his family.

When it comes to educational preparedness as something to fall back on, Hope knows what he is talking about. Considered a proven leader and instrumental in the development of young players in the Titans defense, the Rock Hill, South Carolina native was a top honor student at Florida State University, where he graduated in three and half years with a 4.0 GPA.

“Even though I loved football and was a top player in college, I took my education very seriously and I am glad to see you all doing that. Football has made me millions, given me fame, but when I can stand before great people and speak without feeling intimidated, that’s because of my education,” Hope said.

President Glenda Glover, right, assisted by Dr. Coreen Jackson, director of the Honors Program, presents the Dr. McDonald Williams Scholarship to Lauren Wiggins, a Health Sciences major with a 3.7 GPA from Atlanta.

TSU President Glenda Glover thanked Hope for his words of encouragement and congratulated the honorees for their academic excellence.

“Thank you for speaking to these exceptional students,” President Glover said. “As an honor student yourself when you were at Florida State, these students can relate to you.” She congratulated the more than 2,400 students with GPAs of 3.0 and above for their “outstanding achievement.”

“As honor students you are defined by your aptitude, and your achievement demonstrates pride in TSU,” she added.

At the start of the convocation, President Glover led a moment of silence for former TSU Honors student and SGA President, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., who died Friday of a massive heart attack and stroke at age 70.

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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.