The identical twins, who both play for the Seattle Seahawks, delivered an unscripted, eight-minute commencement speech for the university’s virtual graduation ceremony that focused on understanding self-worth and overcoming adversity.
“You’ve got to know your worth, know the sacrifices you made to get here today to graduate,” Shaquill said. “You all earned it. You all deserve it. … Now, it’s time to just find your purpose. What’s the reason why you did all this? What’s the reason why you sacrificed so much time — so much time away from family — to be able to get this next exam done, to make sure you have the best grades so you can achieve whatever you want to achieve?
“So find your purpose. Find what makes you happy. Find what you love and take full advantage of it.”
Shaquill said that when he “hit a wall” during his junior season at UCF, he found inspiration in his brother and the obstacles that Shaquem had to overcome since having his left hand amputated when he was 4 years old.
“Adversity made me who I am today,” Shaquem told the graduates. “Don’t let adversity dictate who you are going to be. … We know what to do when it comes. You beat it. You fight it. You attack it every single day it comes at you to become a better person, a better you.
“I got you. Knight Nation got you. We all got each other. So always remember that. … Help somebody out. Be great. Change the world. That’s what we’re here for. That’s what we came to UCF for.”
According to the university, about 8,500 degrees were handed out during 12 separate ceremonies Saturday.
To help prep for the speech, Shaquem told reporters that he watched speeches given by Barack Obama, J.J. Watt and Denzel Washington.
Shaquill and Shaquem both earned their degrees from UCF in 2016. Shaquill, a cornerback, was drafted by the Seahawks in 2017. Shaquem, a linebacker who played an extra year with the Knights after being redshirted, was picked by Seattle in 2018.