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Purpose before Passion

Summer 2018

Tiffin University graduate Nate Washington, who played in the National Football League (NFL), delivered the keynote address for Tiffin University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Ceremony in Gillmor Student Center’s gymnasium in January.

Every person and every obstacle, Nate said, shaped him into the man he is today. “You have to build your dream off your purpose, not your passion … Once you find that purpose, then that should become your passion,” he said. Nate explained that the current moment is all he has control over and making sure the dream is correct is vital. “There is no such thing as failure,” he said.

Washington was named first-team all-area and honorable mention all-state as a senior and graduated from Scott High School in Toledo. At Tiffin University, he holds eight receiving records, including records for receptions and yards in a game, receptions and yards in a season, touchdowns in a season, career and yards receptions and career yards touchdown receptions. He was a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans in the NFL, was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and has two Super Bowl rings.

Growing up in a single-parent home, Nate said that at a young age, his dream was different from where it stands today. Dreams, he said, are meant to be formatted to what needs are at that time. “I believe that dreams are meant to evolve,” he said. Washington said NFL, college and any of the success he has attained in his life had been the furthest things from his mind. His mother, Lisha, was a firm stickler in making sure he didn’t settle. It always was heaven in their home, and she always made sure she prayed with her son.

Nate said he always was focused on having his own goals. “I played sports at a young age,” he said. “All I wanted to do was get in the game. I just wanted to play and I only cared about making sure I left an impact on the day.” Even at TU, Nate said that he never spoke about the NFL as he walked the campus grounds. Whether it was a game against another university on a Saturday or a game of recreational basketball on a Tuesday night, “I just wanted to compete,” he said. His dream at Tiffin University was to be successful, to finish school. “I knew I could do that,” he said.

The more one grows, Nate said, the bigger his or her dream will grow. “Dreams are meant to evolve with time. Everyone faces some type of oppression and injustice. We face some type of doubt, fear … It’s all up to you what you want to accomplish,” he said. One needs to ensure his or her dream is right and exists with purpose and determination. Washington said he made a lot of mistakes along the way, and he holds no excuses and no one else accountable. “My dream has conformed … I understand tomorrow and my dream may change again,” he said.

Dr. Lillian Schumacher, President of Tiffin University, said “phenomenal” was the word that was coming to her mind after Washington’s speech. “This has been a great morning,” she said.