Former NFL Star Speaks of Overcoming Odds, Receives Honorary Doctorate

BETHANY, W.Va. – Charlie Batch, an NFL star quarterback who played for both the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers before becoming a nationally-recognized advocate for urban communities, delivered the commencement address at Bethany College’s 178th Commencement Ceremony on May 19.

In a career that has spanned 20 years, Batch has been a professional athlete, a television analyst, an entrepreneur, an advocate for disadvantaged communities, philanthropist, and a champion of numerous issues affecting children and health.

“Expect greatness in your life,” said Batch, who reflected on the lessons he learned growing up in Pittsburgh’s Mon Valley and his NFL playing career before a capacity crowd at Bethany’s Hummel Field House.

“If you don’t expect to win in life, I guarantee you never will. So expect greatness from yourself and everyone around you.

“Dream big,” he continued. “Remember that dreams are nothing more than plans awaiting action, and sometimes you may be the only one who can see your vision. I’m sure at some point you were told that you weren’t good enough…smart enough…talented enough. You can either buy into that lie, or you can challenge that lie, and say ‘no, I refuse to believe that.’”

Bethany College president, Rev. Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg, challenged the graduates to heed the lessons of Batch’s experience in their lives.

“Today you are standing at the precipice of a new challenge,” said Rodenberg. “If you want to bring fundamental change in the world, you must change belief, behavior, and create a community where that belief can be practiced, and expressed, and nurtured. Today, your passport is stamped and you are ready to embark on a life of purpose.

“The world is in desperate need of leaders. This is your time.”

In recognition of his multi-faceted career and achievements in public service, Bethany College bestowed on Batch an honorary Doctor of Philanthropy degree.

About Bethany College

Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.