Alumni Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty, star defensive backs on the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, delivered the 253rd anniversary commencement address on May 19 at Stadium in Piscataway for the Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences graduates.  

“Chasing goals can be scary,” said Devin UCNB’10 (right), speaking alongside his brother. “Do you think we would be here celebrating the 100th year of Paul Robeson’s graduation if he was too scared to step out there and be great? Would the Patriots have six Super Bowls if Bill [Belichick] listened  to other people and put Tom Brady back  on the bench?’’

“Adversity is guaranteed to strike at some point in our lives,” said Jason UCNB’09. “How we deal with adversity will dictate who we become as people.”

Jason told the crowd of 47,000 about his youth, losing his father to illness and learning that a car accident involving his mother would leave her injured and unable to work again. “These scenarios are real; they happen,” he said. “And they force you to look deep within, to challenge all that you thought was important, and to determine who you are and what you’re going to be.”

On the field, Devin and Jason made history on February 3, 2019, as the first twins to play together in a Super Bowl. Off the field, the former Scarlet Knights raise money for and awareness of sickle cell anemia through their collaboration with the New Brunswick-based Embrace Kids Foundation. Recognizing the McCourty twins’ commitment to community service and philanthropy, President Robert Barchi bestowed upon them honorary doctor of humane letters degrees.

The president conferred on New Jersey governor Phil Murphy an honorary doctor of laws degree—upholding a university tradition of recognizing the state’s top executive. The governor then addressed the class, imploring graduates to leave their mark. “We need your voices and activism,” Murphy said. “We need your optimism and intelligence. We need your leadership.”

President Barchi commended Paul Robeson and gave a replica of the 1973 doctorate of humane letters that was conferred on him to his granddaughter, Susan Robeson, as Rutgers celebrates the centennial of his graduation throughout 2019.

This year, close to 19,000 students universitywide received degrees.