- Every year, colleges invite celebrities to deliver commencement speeches at their graduations.
- Oprah Winfrey told graduates that life isn’t about a “big break,” but about “taking one big life transforming step at a time.”
- Viola Davis said that “You can either leave something for people or you can leave something in people” in her speech at Barnard College.
- Katie Holmes advised against using a fake ID to buy alcohol and then trying to pay with a check.
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Every year, colleges invite celebrities to deliver commencement speeches at their graduations and leave the graduating class with some words of wisdom. Who better to speak about success, failure, and following your dreams than accomplished people who have achieved theirs?
Here’s what 10 celebrities shared with the class of 2019 about life after graduation.
Ken Jeong: “Figure out what your act II is, and embrace the change, embrace the twists and the unexpected turns. They’ll be good and they’ll be bad, but embrace that.”
“They say everything happens for a reason,” the actor told UNC Greensboro’s class of 2019. “I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know everything happens, and it’s up to you to maximise the reality of your situation.”
Oprah Winfrey: “I’m here to tell you that your life isn’t some big break, like everybody tells you that is. It’s about taking one big life-transforming step at a time.”
Winfrey told the 2019 graduates of Colorado College that it’s ok to take it slow.
“I’m here to tell you that you actually do get to transform the world every day by your actions,” she said. “Small steps lead to big accomplishments.”
Glenn Close: “Your perspective is unique. It’s important and it counts. Try not to compare it to anyone else. Accept it. Believe in it. Nurture it.”
Close also advised the graduates of The College of William and Mary to “Stay fiercely, joyously connected to the friends you have made here.”
“You will have each other’s backs for the rest of your lives,” she said.
Tim Cook: “In a world where we obsessively document our own lives, most of us don’t pay nearly enough attention to what we owe one another.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the commencement speech at Tulane University, during which he encouraged students to listen to others and remain open to seeing the world in a different way.
“Today, certain algorithms pull you toward the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else. Push back,” he said.
Jennifer Garner: “At a certain point you’ll find there is no finish line to cross, no moment where you’re just supposed to be happy. While you wait for those moments, the MCAT score, the perfect job, the engagement ring, your life is happening.”
She also had some less serious advice for the Denison University class of 2019.
“When it comes to Halloween costumes, go funny over sexy,” Garner said. “Why would you dress like a flirty nurse, when you could be a mailbox?”
Pharrell Williams: “I personally believe that positivity is something that we should bottle up, because the world as we know it, and we see it, needs it.”
In addition to speaking about the importance of positivity, the “Happy” singer encouraged the University of Virginia’s class of 2019 to make their mark on history.
“History has been anticipating you,” he said. “Don’t keep it waiting any longer, 2019 – and definitely don’t fail to make your mark.”
Katie Holmes: “Don’t use a fake ID to buy wine and then try to pay with a check.”
She also encouraged the women in the University of Toledo’s audience to “lift up, listen to, and trust one another.“
Laverne Cox: “When we use language that excludes groups of people on pertinent issues, it can jeopardize their health and well-being.”
In her commencement speech at Pitzer College, Cox spoke about the importance of including transgender men in conversations about abortion.
“What this brought up for me is that as you go out into the world, you’re going to be faced with a lot of difficult decisions, a lot of things that will make you uncomfortable, that are complicated and nuanced issues,” she said. And sometimes you might just want to keep it simple. ‘Can we focus on this part of the issue right now and just leave this out ― leave this group of people out?’ And what I would like to remind you of today is that when we are leaving people out, we are not really doing the work to be inclusive.”
Cyndi Lauper: “Make your bad luck your good luck.”
Lauper attended Johnson College, now part of Northern Vermont University-Johnson, 40 years ago.
According to Stowe Today, she told a story about how GED test proctors gave her extra time because she showed up to the exam on crutches after a car crash.
Viola Davis: “You can either leave something for people or you can leave something in people. “
Davis told Barnard’s class of 2019 that they can choose what they do with the education and tools they have been given.
“You are graduating from a school whose mission it is to not just hand you a diploma, but a sword.,” she said. “You either start wielding it or you put it away as a conversation piece.”
- Read more:
- The 11 best graduation gifts you can buy at Costco
- 9 of the most creative graduation caps from the class of 2019
- 30 Amazon Prime-eligible gifts for graduates – all under $US100
- 20 travel gifts for the student who’s planning a big trip after graduation
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