Tassels have been moved to the left side, and caps have been thrown in celebration. The collegiate class of 2019 has now graduated and begun their new journey, venturing into the uncertainty of adulthood and full-time jobs. Prior to the hugging, crying and cutting of cake, graduates received words of wisdom from successful men and women from around the country and across various walks of life. Here are memorable moments from some of the most inspiring commencement speeches of 2019.
On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus … This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.
Pay It Forward
Robert F. Smith, billionaire technology investor and philanthropist, shocked students at Morehouse College this May with an unbelievable pledge. During his commencement speech, he announced that he would be paying off the entire class of 2019’s student loans. The crowd was floored—and inevitably grateful—for this amazing act of kindness. Students are now able to set their best foot forward, debt-free.
So today, I would like to pause for a moment to appreciate the parts of you that you don’t put online. I would like to mount a defense of them. Of your boring, internal, book-reading, dishwashing, thought-having life. Of the parts of you that can’t be captured by any technological medium.
Embrace the “Boring”
Tara Westover, author of the bestselling memoir, “Educated,” spoke to Northeastern’s graduating class of 2019 about something she calls the “un-Instagrammable self,” someone’s true identity that is typically masked by filters and forced smiles on social media. She went on to explain how she, herself, has at times been guilty of projecting a different version of her authentic self, discussing her unconventional upbringing and the struggles she faced with breaking away from her background. She concluded by encouraging graduates to embrace the part of themselves that they normally don’t show their followers, and recognize that their success is attributed to their differences.
What is your act II? Everyone here has a different timeline. Everyone here has a unique story. 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.
Find Your “Second Act”
Ken Jeong experienced a major lifestyle change when he left the medical field to pursue a career in acting. The comedic star discussed this with students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, urging them to find their very own “second act”. He reminded students that you have to have bad moments in your lifetime to appreciate the positives, and that with perseverance, the good will always find a way to shine through.
When you respect the idea that you are sharing the earth with other humans, and when you lead with your nice foot forward, you’ll win, every time. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but it comes back to you when you need it…
Give It Time
Graduates at the University of Southern California were told to “listen as fiercely as you want to be heard.” Actress Kristen Bell asked the class of 2019 to always act out of kindness, attempt to understand every perspective, and remember that the best things come to those who wait. Humanity is a shared effort, and doing the right thing for others will always pay off in the end, no matter how long it might take to realize.
Nowadays, you are going to have to steer our spaceship. Take charge of Earth. It’s no longer a matter of just being good stewards. From now on, we humans will have to deliberately control what we do to our atmosphere, the land and sea to ensure that we maintain as much biodiversity as possible while taking care of all of us. Now, when it comes to changing the world, don’t be scared. Don’t freak out.
The Spaceship Is Yours
Bill Nye emphasized to Goucher College graduates that the future belongs to their generation. Using space-themed metaphors to explain taking destiny into your own hands (quite appropriate for the speaker often referred to as the “Science Guy”), he told students to “turn their fears into excitement,” and take charge of the future for their own and others’ sake.