Hill Harper is no stranger to the spotlight.

The award-winning actor has starred in shows like “CSI:NY” and “Homeland”, and currently has a lead role on ABC’s “The Good Doctor”. He has also starred in several films. 

But on Monday, Harper spent hit time on stage not performing, but connecting with students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and sharing with them some of his life lessons.

At one point early on in the talk, Harper told the audience, “My destiny is inextricably linked with yours.”

Destiny is a big theme in Harper’s work, from his Manifest Your Destiny Foundation for underserved youth, to his work in juvenile detention centers. And while the students at Rose-Hulman may not be in those situations, Harper says his message is the same for all youth. 

“The message, to be quite honest, isn’t very different for the young people who are incarcerated versus the young people who are here at Rose-Hulman,” said Harper. “The idea’s that you can create any life you want, no matter who you are, no matter where you’re from.”

Ryan Tanaka, a graduate student at Rose-Hulman, attended Harper’s talk and connected with the actor’s message to take risks in order to follow your passions.

“Taking risks is extremely important,” said Tanaka. “It’s easy to say it, it’s tougher to do it, but I feel I’ve been able to do that so far through experience at Rose.”

Harper stressed the importance of taking these risk while still young, as he did himself. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Harper was told by people to pay off his student loans and practice traditional law. Instead, he chose to pursue acting, a choice that clearly paid off. 

“Sometimes, if you make choices that are what I call the safe choice early, it’s very difficult to extricate yourself from that,” said Harper. 

And Harper feels that too many people are getting stuck in those safe but unsatisfying lives, which leads to cynicism and negativity, a global mindset he believes the youth can re-route.

“I believe that young people can actually change that course,” said Harper. “And I’m excited to encourage them to do so.” 

After Harper finished his talk at Rose-Hulman, he traveled back to New York to begin rehearsals for a new play he is performing in, Our Lady of 121st Street.