Soccer legend Brandi Chastain ’91 shared her own lessons in leading a service-oriented life at SCU’s 163rd commencement.
Nearly 15 years after scoring the winning goal that won the U.S. the World Cup and inspired the passionate celebration that landed her on front pages across the globe, soccer legend Brandi Chastain ’91 returned to her alma mater to deliver the 163rd undergraduate commencement address. The speech helped mark 50 years of women’s athletics at Santa Clara University.
The Class of 2014 cheered her as loudly on the stage as if they were watching her on the field, with fist pumps and chants of “USA, USA.”
Even a championship-winning player has to realize that “everybody matters,” said Chastain. “Not just the players that score goals, not just the 11 that get to be on the field, not the substitutes, but every single player. The ones that are on the bench make the team great.”
Chastain graduated with a degree in communications from Santa Clara before going on to win two gold medals and one silver medal while representing the U.S. in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic games. She is also a volunteer assistant coach with the SCU women’s soccer team and co-founder of the nonprofit Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative. The nonprofit offers a free weekly after-school program for elementary school girls aimed at developing self-esteem and good health practices by mentoring from high school and collegiate women athletes.
Chastain shared lessons from her parents, coaches, and her grandfather that helped fuel her service-oriented life. Her grandfather, who knew she loved to score goals, offered the young Chastain $1 for every goal—but $1.50 for every assist. “[Such lessons taught me that] if I gave something to somebody else so they could do something great, it would come back twofold to me,” she said.
Before her address, Chastain was awarded an honorary doctorate of public service.
Rupert and Maryellie Johnson also received an honorary doctorate of public service for their dedication supporting higher education and scholarship. With a $5 million gift to SCU in 2013, the Johnsons founded the Johnson Scholars Program to cultivate compassionate, intelligent, empowered leadership in students.
Rev. Howard A. Lincoln was honored with a doctorate of pastoral ministry for his outstanding work with churches across the country and his leadership in helping the poor with food, medical care, and education.
The Kino Border Initiative, represented by Sean Carroll, S.J., was also awarded an honorary doctorate for its mission to make a more humane, just, and effective migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality.
Valedictorian Ivan Krayniy ’14, an accounting major with a minor in international business who was born in a refugee camp, told his classmates to appreciate what they have, including the diversity and diverse experiences SCU yielded them, such as study abroad, internships, charitable and humanitarian projects, and friendships.
“This is the time to hold your head high,” he said.