“The completion of my degree feels like a triple overtime victory.”
by Candice Wiggins | @candicewiggins
As a recent graduate of Leland Stanford Junior University, I’d like to give my pseudo-Valedictorian speech:
In the game of basketball, we’re taught to play as hard as we can until the very last play of the game. I always took this message to heart as a kid, and still do. It’s become one of the strongest characteristics of my personality, and I think it’s one of the reasons I’m able to be so effective on the court. I’m sure every hooper in America knows how much of a sin it is to give up, or not finish a game. Have you ever done that? I sure hope not. Not only are you letting your coach and teammates down, you let yourself down when you don’t go as hard as you can, or when you decide that the game isn’t worth winning anymore…
It is now my firm belief that this same philosophy can be applied to school and education, and I had to apply this discipline during the fall, while finishing my degree in Communication at Stanford. Finding the motivation to go back was pretty easy, but what I learned this quarter was more complex than I anticipated. It reminded me of one of my games at Stanford, when we played Utah my senior year and won in double overtime, after being down by 6 points with less than a minute left in regulation. It’s that kind of resiliency that opens up doors to success, but it also teaches a valuable lesson. During that Utah game, it wasn’t pretty, nor was it particularly easy or fun. But winning that game in double overtime felt like a quasi-National Championship game for us. And I have to say, just like in that Utah game, the completion of my degree feels like a triple overtime victory, where I came out the winner.
For the first time in my life I was a student, and not a student-athlete. The most mentally challenging barrier for any professional athlete is returning back to school to finish their degree. It’s hard to understand why it’s such a challenge, but I know why. Life moves us all forward; it’s easy to subsequently get swept away in the goals and expectations placed in front of you toward your future. When you’re a professional player living your dream, you realize that your priorities have shifted to fit your ever-changing identity.
School and life are just like a basketball game. Maybe sometimes you won’t come out the “winner”, but if you go hard, stay focused, have discipline, and never give up, you most certainly give yourself the absolute best chance to win.
Stanford Class of 2011