There are some things in life that seem attainable for only the “lucky” ones. The talent to play a musical instrument. The courage for public speaking. The ability to wear skinny jeans.
J.J. Moses doesn’t believe in “luck.” He believes in being prepared, working hard, and being grateful.
Moses earned his liberal studies degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University in 2009. He was in Texas at the time, completing his degree through online classes – nine years after leaving Iowa State to play in the NFL.
“It was so important for me to graduate from ISU,” Moses said. “My dad (Jerry Moses) played for ISU. I played for ISU. Then my brother, Milan Moses, played for ISU. We’re a Cyclone family.”
The Waterloo native stands just 5’ 6” tall and weighs in at 170 pounds. But Moses didn’t let his size hold him back from playing the sport he loved, nor did he let a hiatus from school hold him back from graduating.
During his junior year – in 2000 – friend and teammate Sage Rosenfels asked Moses to catch a few footballs for him on a Saturday morning. The Kansas City Chiefs were in Ames to take a look at the quarterback. They noticed Moses, too, and that same day he was recruited to play for the Chiefs.
“I didn’t earn a spot in the NFL because of luck,” he said, saying he’d been overlooked before because of his size. “I earned a spot that morning because I had dreams and desires and I was prepared. I didn’t let those previous situations affect my NFL dreams.”
Moses played in the NFL for five years with the Chiefs, the Houston Texans and the Arizona Cardinals. When his playing days were over in 2008, he was called back to Houston to be an NFL Ambassador for the Texans. One of his main tasks is motivational speaking.
“I’ve always loved getting out and speaking,” he said. “I didn’t know it would be a talent that would eventually become a job, but I really enjoy what I do.”
Shortly after being named an ambassador, Moses was connected with LAS adviser Kathleen Timmons, who guided Moses through the final steps towards graduation.
“He was the student that everyone wants to advise,” Timmons said. “He was extremely personable, enthusiastic, motivated, responsible and humble. He really had a desire to earn his degree.”
Timmons, who still advises LAS students – and has since 1976 – said Moses is an inspiration to others who come back to school. For non-traditional students, there can be barriers to reaching goals.
Moses said earning his degree 12 years after entering school wasn’t any reason to doubt or compare his abilities against anyone else’s.
“A common message in my motivational talks is that great things can happen if you’re prepared for the opportunities,” he said. “I’m still reaping the benefits of that Saturday morning because I was prepared.”
Moses’ job puts him in front of Fortune 500 companies as well as grade school children, but his story appeals to everyone. J.J. Moses isn’t lucky. He discovered his passion, pursued his dreams, and continues to be prepared for his next adventure.