When his former high school asked him to give the 2020 commencement address, Michael Thomas jumped at the opportunity. The Houston-born safety and special teamer signed, who signed with the Texans just one month earlier, spoke to the graduating class at Aldine I.S.D high schools, including his own Nimitz High School.
"It was a huge honor for them to ask me to speak to not just my high school but the whole school district's 2020 graduates," Thomas said. "It's an honor for me, just 12 years since I graduated from Nimitz to be asked to come back and speak. For me, I was like all right, that's pretty cool to have all the students want me to come back and speak."
Now in his eighth NFL season, Thomas leads by example. He graduated from Stanford and then pursued his Master's in Business Administration which he received in 2016 from the University of Miami. The Pro Bowler is also well-known for his community and social justice work. In May, Stanford awarded Thomas the 2020 Ira D. Hall award for his extraordinary commitment to social justice, community organizing, and public service in a local, national, and/or global context.
In his speech, Thomas congratulated the graduating seniors on four years of hard work and long-lasting memories despite multiple events like prom and big events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This 2020 class, there will never be another graduating class like you, and use this," Thomas said. "When you go on to your interviews and you're writing your papers and stuff in college or you're applying for jobs, speak on this experience, speak on the adversity that you've had, that you've faced even trying to finish your senior year, trying to graduate, trying to still create memories your last couple months even though you couldn't be face-to-face with your friends."
Thomas's advice was to lean into the adversity faced in an unprecedented time. The 2020 graduating seniors had a historic year, one to be remembered by future classes, Thomas said.
"Speak on those experiences because, trust me, people want to hear your story and people will probably be willing to help you or hire you because they know you've faced adversity in life and overcame something," Thomas said. "That's the message I tried to portray to them or get to them and I think they received it well. I always have love for Aldine. I always come back and do my summer camps and speak to the kids all the time and they receive it well."