March 7, 2012
Hugh Williams, Northwestern
Attending Northwestern University offered me the opportunity to be like Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’………..the man whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds…if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat’.
The arena I chose at Northwestern allowed me to be challenged by some of the brightest minds in the world. The rigorous nature of the academic environment dared me to commit to being a life-long learner, but more importantly dared me to be confident and to defend any given position or stance that I might endorse. Captaining the Northwestern football team and earning a varsity letter as a wrestler hammered home the principles of teamwork and the pursuit of excellence. Challenging yourself athletically leaves no room for moral victories. The outcomes are black and white, measured in wins and losses; however the lessons learned are often shaded in gray. Those lessons; dealing with adversity, pushing yourself beyond your perceived limits, understanding that you are never as good or as bad as you might believe, are the cornerstone to living a fulfilled life, regardless of one’s vocation.
The Big Ten Advisory Commission is a very important piece of the conference’s commitment to providing a world-class academic and athletic experience. Blacks are under-represented on campuses throughout the Big Ten, which of course is a separate issue. Given that the majority of the high-profile student-athletes on campus are Black, there is naturally a greater focus (or misguided focus) on them. By having such an organization in place at the very least it provides visibility, a voice and a resource for those student-athletes that should enable them to take even greater steps toward becoming Legends and Leaders.