HOUSTON – In a graduation ceremony for Baylor College of Medicine at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in downtown, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt went from being NFL superstar and one of Houston's biggest celebrities to being Dr. J.J. Watt.
"I've had a lot of big dreams in my life but not even I dreamed I'd become a doctor one day," Watt said from a podium after the doctoral hood was placed over his head.
The All-Pro defensive end was conferred an honorary doctorate from the school for his efforts during Hurricane Harvey relief. The students received their medical degrees and those receiving doctorates were more than thrilled to have Watt share their big day.
"It was very cool seeing him up close," graduate Vivek Beechar said. "It was great to meet him in person."
Others felt the same excitement.
"It was awesome," said graduate Vitaliy Bondar. "His speech was very personal, very frank, and I really loved for him to be there, and it was just a very good experience to have."
In his speech, Watt, who raised more than $37 million for Harvey relief after setting an initial goal of $200,000, urged the students -- who already have accomplished so much -- to use that same type of energy in their medical careers.
"What I challenge you to do is to help bring out that inherent good in everyone around you," Watt said. "Help be that positive light. Help be that person that everybody else wants to be around, and help be that energy that takes this world into an even better place."
There were 264 students who received degrees at Tuesday's graduation.
Watt is currently in his eighth season in the NFL.
In his first five seasons, he received the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award three times.
In 2017, he was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, and in 2018, he earned the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and was included on the TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world.