Commencement cap decorated with flowers

Olympic soccer gold medalist and alumna Briana Scurry urged graduates at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Commencement today to draw strength and motivation from life’s hardships to chart their unique path and achieve their aspirations.

“Success is not a straight line,” said Scurry, as she recalled starting her journey as a fifth-string player and finishing it with a place in the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. After suffering a debilitating concussion and falling into despair, even pawning her Olympic gold medals, she emerged from personal crisis to become an inspirational advocate for concussion awareness, encouraging others to break barriers.

The critical choice, she said, is what to do with your adversity. “Every single one of you is capable of changing your world,” she said. “If a young, skinny Black girl from a 2,000-person community in Minnesota can go on to win two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup championship, what can you all do? Imagine that.”

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