Alumnus Rashad Jennings encourages students at ‘Convo on the Lawn’
For its last Convocation of the year, Liberty University hosted its second annual “Convocation on the Lawn,” where students gathered on the Academic Lawn to hear from former NFL player and “Dancing with the Stars” champion Rashad Jennings (’09).
Also in attendance was Liberty President Jerry Falwell and former professional baseball player Darryl Strawberry, who led a prayer for seniors preparing to graduate and will give further remarks on Saturday at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine as part of the third annual Helping Hands Medical Outreach Gala.
The campus expansion and financial success that Liberty has seen in recent years has been spurred by the tremendous growth in Liberty’s endowment size, Falwell said. This past year, Liberty’s endowment growth was second in the nation in terms of percentage, something Falwell said is integral to securing the future of Liberty. Falwell informed students and faculty of the newest renovations and construction projects on campus that have either recently been completed or are in the planning stages. Falwell mentioned plans for an expanded Football Operations Center, a parking garage on East Campus, and renovations and expansions to the Hill Residence Halls, among many other projects.
“If you don’t have a strong endowment to ensure the future of your school, then you’re not sure if the school is even going to survive,” Falwell said. “So many private schools are suffering and spending their endowments down every year, and that’s why we work so hard every year to do whatever we have to do to ensure that the school will be here for your children and grandchildren.”
Following Falwell’s remarks, Jennings took the stage to give an encouraging message about not only thinking outside of the box, but “dismantling boxes” in life that limit them from pursuing what God is leading them to do. By doing so, Jennings said that students will be ready to face challenges.
“As you all prepare to go out into the world, I want you to know that there will be all sorts of boxes that you might find yourself in,” Jennings said. “There are often times where you need to dismantle those boxes so you will not be tempted to return to those boxes once life gets tough, and life will definitely get tough.”
Jennings gave many personal anecdotes of when he was in high school playing football as a fifth-string running back in Forest, Va. Jennings told students how he overcame adversity to later play football at Liberty Christian Academy, Liberty University, and, eventually, as a starting running back in the NFL.
“In life, I learned quickly that football was never my true touchdown, because my true touchdown was when I understood what Jesus Christ was in my life,” Jennings said. “No matter what you decide to do in life, if you keep God first, and you keep chasing him, and you keep pursuing him, He will always show up in the midst of everything.”
At the close of Convocation, Falwell, Jennings, and Liberty starting quarterback Stephen Calvert threw footballs into the crowd. Jennings met with students and signed copies of his new book, “The IF in Life,” where he shares with readers many of his most inspiring and exciting life stories. He will also sign books at the Liberty University Bookstore at 6 p.m. The book will be available for purchase for $5.