posted on 1/10/22

Dean Furness, a 1994 Central College graduate, will speak at the college's Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14, 2022, at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.

After becoming paralyzed following an accident in 2011, Furness speaks to groups via large keynotes and small settings about grit, determination and what it takes to keep moving through daily challenges. His story was recognized as a "Top 20 of 2020" TED Talk, garnering more than 3.5 million views. A significant part of Furness' story details his adventures in wheelchair racing, leading him to compete in major marathons around the country, including the Chicago and Boston marathons.

"I haven't cured cancer, and I'm not a CEO of a billion-dollar company. I'm just living my life to the best of my abilities, and I want students to know that that's okay, too," Furness says. "It's the strong connections and meaningful relationships I developed while at Central that make me who I am. Without them, I would not have the success in my wheelchair that I do today."

Professionally, Furness is a data and analytics specialist at Wells Fargo, focused on data visualization and digital dashboard solutions to help executives with decision-making activities. He and his wife, Deonne, have three children: Taylar, Raigen (a 2020 Central graduate) and Angelina. Furness lives in Martensdale, Iowa, where he enjoys woodworking and cooking and is active in the community as an assistant coach for the high school girls basketball team.

For more information on Commencement, visit central.edu/commencement.

Central College of Pella, Iowa, is a private, four-year liberal arts college. Central is known for its academic rigor and leadership formation and for cultivating diversity of thought and culture through the arts and sciences, professional fields of study and experiential learning.