First off, congratulations to all the brand new Bruin alumni. Yours is an incredible accomplishment, one that will serve you very well in your future, and one of which you can deservedly be proud of for the rest of your life.
Now with that said, I wanted to highlight one new graduate in particular. Check out this tweet:
That's Alterraun Verner, our former All-American corner and now starting CB for the Tennessee Titans, tweeting just before he received his BS in Applied Mathematics last weekend. I just love seeing our former Bruin athletes expressing their love for our school.
HT to BruinMW for his fanshot of Peter Yoon's article on ESPN.com that chronicled ATV's return to Westwood to complete his degree. With the NFL lockout in place, Verner used the free time to finish his remaining classes at U.C.L.A. According to ATV, there was never a question of whether he would complete his degree. It was just a matter of when.
"It's just the way that I grew up," Verner said. "Academics were a strong focus in my life. The degree is going to last way longer than my football career. That was instilled in me by my parents from a young age so that's why I always knew I would eventually go back to get my degree."
Yoon's article discusses ATV's equally impressive family, and it's clear to see where his outstanding ethic began. His return to U.C.L.A. was not only supported, but was expected, by his parents.
"I told all my kids that everybody in the house was going to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree," Vicki Verner [ATV's mom] said. "I told them that ever since they were born so there was never any doubt that he would and we're so proud of him that he's doing it." ...
"The thing is, he loves UCLA," said Robert Verner, Alterraun's father. "He loves being there on campus and I think he missed it when he was gone so he was pretty excited to go back and live there."
It was no surprise that ATV was on campus to go through ceremonies and receive his degree. After all, he'd been living in the dorms since January while finishing his remaining classes. At U.C.L.A., scholarships cover 5 academic years. Since ATV never redshirted, he still had one year of his scholarship remaining. As a result, he was able to move into on-campus housing and make the same trek up and down Bruin Walk as his fellow non-NFL-playing dormmates did for 6 months. One might wonder how an NFL starter feels about living like a college student again. It sounds like he didn't mind.
"I'm really happy I did it and did it this way," Verner said. "This is a place I wanted to go to when I was young. The years I had here were good and some of the best experiences of my life. It's like coming home."
There was no comment from him on the dorm food.
So, I guess some good has come from the NFL lockout after all. Congratulations from all of us at Bruins Nation to Alterraun. I echo the sentiments of BruinMW:
It's men like him that make me proud to be a fellow Bruin.
ATV's has always impressed with both his work on the field and in the classroom. He continues to do so still.
And congratulations to all the the incredible 168 Bruin athletes who also just graduated from the greatest University in the world, and accomplished it while devoting countless hours and effort to competing for the greatest University in the world. You, also, are examples of why we are so proud to be Bruins.
The graduate, with Director of Student-Athlete Counseling Mike Casillas, from the Official Site