Professional football player Chris Gragg told students at Southeast Arkansas College on Tuesday that education is the key to achieving their dreams.
Gragg, a tight end for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, was a surprise guest speaker at SEARK’s monthly Lunch and Learn event. He had been scheduled for an earlier date that was canceled because of inclement weather.
After being greeted with a standing ovation by a crowd of about 35 people, the 6-foot-3-inch, 244-pound Gragg motivated students with the story of his journey from a small town to professional football.
“It’s sometimes hard to find a lot of good, but there is a lot of good around here,” Gragg said. “I’m from around here. And I want people from Southeast Arkansas to strive to do something good.”
A graduate of Warren High School, Gragg pointed out that coming from a small town doesn’t have to be a hindrance to success.
“Two other of my classmates made it to the NFL,” he said. “Some others are now lawyers or working for major corporations.”
Gragg said he never thought of himself as a motivational speaker. He said he just wants to inspire someone to follow his or her dream.
“If I can do that,” he said. “I will have succeeded.”
Gragg credits his parents — Kelvin and Tenita Gragg, both educators — for instilling in him the importance of education.
“The way the world is today, education is the prerequisite,” He said. “If you want to have the American dream, that’s one of the things you have to do.
“I’m not going to be able to play football forever,” Gragg said.
Gragg was a standout football player at the University of Arkansas where he was a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and Razorback Honor Roll in 2011. He received a degree in sports management.
As a Bills rookie in 2013, Gragg caught five passes for 53 yards and had a touchdown catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gragg, who lives in Pine Bluff during the off-season, said he stays grounded by coming home to be with family and friends.
His longtime friend and personal assistant, John Barnes, said staying grounded is not a problem for Gragg.
“He has a good upbringing and good family values, and he is with a good organization,” Barnes said.
The Lunch and Learn event was organized by Gail Stith. .