Jason Peter came to FSCJ to give a riveting account of his experiences down the road of self-medication. On Thursday, March 26, about five hundred people filed into the Wilson Center at South Campus to hear the former NFL player give a speech on his bestselling book, “Hero of the Underground.” FSCJ chose this powerful book to be the centerpiece for this year’s Author Series, calling for college-wide literary analysis by the faculty and student body.
The memoir inspired many students and faculty to action, resulting in the construction of a butterfly shaped garden on South Campus to honor the process of internal metamorphosis. The school dedicated the garden to Peter upon arrival–a monument reminding everyone of the success possible when hard work and burning desire meet.
The South Gallery also participated in the event, putting on an exhibit centered around themes of addiction, recovery and health as seen and experienced by college students. Along the walls are art projects from classes inspired by the books, and a collage of faculty and students holding “I am drug free” signs. One poignant display was filled with hanging tags–each providing an intimate glimpse into students’ personal experiences with dependency.
Peter revealed his awe at the college’s response to “Hero of the Underground,” telling the audience that “what you guys have done with this book is really incredible, you know, it’s awesome.” He then discussed the criticism he has undergone in the publishing of his story, saying that people discredit him as having an advantage over others because of his financial status. The speech was raw and unedited, adding to the authenticity of the novel and the man behind it. At one point Peter states that what the college accomplished with his book has shown him a lot about himself. “I think they know the book better than I do,” he said.
This year’s Author Series event was a huge success. Issues of addiction and dependency are no stranger to college campuses. Peter’s account of perseverance and ultimate triumph in the face of adversity has the power to inspire anyone who has known struggle and dared to overcome it.