After 4 years of hard work and dedication, college students around the nation have made it to the most important day of their college careers, graduation. Some might be dreading this long day of picture taking and overwhelmed parents with happiness and tears, while others might be so excited they can’t sit still during the ceremony. But before they pack up their stuff and head out into the real world, they all received notable advice from their graduation speakers. From CEO’s to celebrity appearances, these five commencement speakers gave the best advice to college graduates this graduation season.
1. Oprah Winfrey, University of Southern California
When giving her speech to the University of Southern California’s Annenburg School for Communication and Journalism on May 11th, Oprah had much to say about the importance of today’s media. She stressed the importance of honesty, and how today’s culture revolves around “fake news.” She encouraged all the journalists in the room to “challenge the left, to challenge the right, to challenge the center.” She went on to give advice to not only journalists but all graduates in the room about how to live the fullest life once they hit the real world. She ended her speech with her last piece of advice, “Stop comparing yourself to other people,” and the crowd roared with applause.
2. Tim Cook, Duke University
Duke University was privileged to hear Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, speak at their graduation ceremony May 13th, with political issues, the #MeToo Movement and internet privacy as some of his talking points. Cook graduated from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1988 which gave him the ability to resonate with the graduates who sat before him. He encouraged the graduates to be “fearless” to fight against inequality and injustice. Cook also addressed the controversial topic of internet privacy by stating Apple will remain a company that would never violate their user’s personal privacy. Without talking about Facebook directly he said, “In every way, in every turn, the question we ask ourselves is not ‘what we can do’ but ‘what we should do’.”
3. Amal Clooney, Vanderbilt
On May 10th Amal Clooney, human activist lawyer and wife of George Clooney, titled her speech “We Need Courage,” by empowering Vanderbilt’s graduates to stand up for what’s right. She addressed women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, journalist’s rights and political battles in today’s world. She mentioned pivotal people in history like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and students of Vanderbilt who took part in the Civil Rights Era sit-ins to fight for equal rights. Clooney also talked about personal experiences with clients, a female journalist who was arrested after reporting on corruption by the president of Azerbaijan as well as a Yazidi woman who was kidnaped by Iraqi militants. Bring each person and topic brought up back to the same central point, “we need courage.” Clooney was also awarded the Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal at the ceremony.
4. Andrea Mitchell, University of Pennsylvania
NBC News’ Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Andrea Michell spoke at the University of Pennsylvania May 14th with a unique approach. Mitchell was a graduate of the 1967 class, giving her the ability to connect on a deeper level with the graduates. Her speech focused on her experience of facing gender inequality as a female journalist. She touched on the #MeToo and the “Time’s Up” Movements as well as the importance of facts in today’s “fake news” accusations. “These days ‘fake news’ is also what they call news they don’t agree with,” she said. “Honest, fearless journalism is essential to sustaining our democracy.”
5. Chance the Rapper, Dillard University
“Living up to your heroes is amazing, but not good enough,” Chance the Rapper said at his commencement speech at Dillard University on May 12th. Chance also receiving an honorary doctorate for his “philanthropy and continued service to the youth.” He spoke about musical legends like Michael Jackson and Beyonce, but told the graduates to study and learn from them because they might not be able to replicate but one might be able to surpass. President of Dillard University, Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough made a statement about the decision to have Chance the Rapper as their speaker, “I thought he made for a great commencement speaker because of his spirit of being entrepreneurial and authentic. But his civic engagement, including encouraging people to vote and willingness to speak out on issues… are just as paramount.”