PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Ex-Patriots player Vince Wilfork delivered the keynote address at New England Tech’s commencement Sunday morning at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
Almost 1,200 students received associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees this year, the school’s 75th anniversary. Wilfork and former Rhode Island Governor Philip Noel received honorary degrees.
Wilfork spent 11 years with the Patriots and became one of the league’s best defensive tackles. He is a five-time Pro Bowl player and two-time Super Bowl Champion. New England Tech awarded him an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in recognition of his charity work off the field: he has raised $1.5 million for diabetes research in memory of his father, sponsored a wing at the Mattapan Community Health Center in Boston, and also fundraised for several other diabetes research organization.
“If you have something that you’re focusing on, focus on it and you make that dream, that goal, come true,” he told the crowd.
Wilfork’s contract with the Patriots expired this off-season and he signed with the Houston Texans.
Governor Noel was in office from 1973 to 1977 and is credited with revitalizing Rhode Island’s economy after the significant reduction in the U.S. Navy’s presence in the state. Noel was a driving force behind Electric Boat’s decision to open a facility near Quonset Point. In honor of his economic development work, Noel was also awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.