“Whatever you start, you finish:” Jerome Bettis re-enrolls at Notre Dame, takes virtual course in Rome

Author: Costanza Montanari

In 2020, Jerome Bettis re-enrolled at the University of Notre Dame to complete his bachelor’s degree in business. He saw the global pandemic as an opportunity to reconnect with Notre Dame and finish what he started nearly 30 years ago. As a father of two, Bettis also wanted to serve as a role model to his children. 

“I have always told my kids that whatever you start, you finish,” comments Bettis. “This was the opportunity for me to put money where my mouth was, even if it was much tougher than I thought it would have been. It’s definitely a challenge, but it has been a rewarding one so far.”

The successful football player spent 13 seasons playing in the National Football League (NFL). He launched his career playing for the University of Notre Dame where, during his sophomore year, he set the Notre Dame touchdown record. However, Bettis never graduated college, instead opting to skip his senior year to enter the 1993 NFL Draft. He remembers promising his mom that one day he would complete his university career and now, almost three decades later, he has lived up to his promise.

This past summer, Bettis was enrolled in “All Roads Lead to Rome,” a virtual course organized by the Rome Global Gateway and led by Chiara Sbrodoni. 


Despite being a business major, Bettis has always been fond of history and specifically of classicism. That is why, when he found out he could register for a virtual course about Rome’s origins and hidden secrets, he didn’t think twice about enrolling. 

“I was always a fan of Rome,” says Bettis. “I have been to Rome several times; I had seen the city and I loved it. When I saw the opportunity to learn more about it - I jumped on the opportunity! It has been an enlightening experience to learn about all of the different parts of the city, where Rome began, and the history through it. Now I want to visit it again because I feel I have a better understanding of its history and culture.”

The commitment of completing his degree has been challenging because of the gap in his studies. His 16-year-old daughter has been a precious resource for him, helping him with the obstacles of technology. His entire family has been supportive of his choice.

Bettis is happy to serve as an example for others, proving that no matter where life takes you,  there’s always time to switch lanes and follow your dreams. After a successful 20-year career in American football, he can cross this dream off his list. 

“Find your passion, what you want to do in life, commit to it and let it be done,” adds Bettis. 

“I had a great career in football, but still felt unfinished. I needed to achieve my degree to feel complete. Remember that the opportunity is still out there and that time is by your side. Set your goal and pursue it; it will probably be the most fulfilling thing that you have ever done.”


Originally published by Costanza Montanari at rome.nd.edu on October 01, 2021.