This Spring, convocation ceremonies at universities everywhere are being held to commemorate the past accomplishments and inspire future achievements in the lives of graduates from the class of 2018. As the next generation of world leaders enter the workforce, they are left with only what they made of their education and the fleeting wisdom imparted upon them from industry professionals speaking at their commencement. This year, some especially notable figures offered their advice to the grads. Here are 10 of the most memorable pieces of wisdom bestowed.
These are listed in no particular order other than which they were selected.
Date: May 20, 2018
Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump back in 2016. In her own words, she still isn’t “over it,” and admits to struggling with coming to terms with the results of the election even now. Yet, what she’s learned in her years as a politician, whether she’s winning or losing, is that you must keep trying; and that wisdom is bipartisan.
“These are challenging times for America, but then again we’ve come through challenging times before… This moment feels even more hopeful because this is a battle-hardened hope, tempered by loss, and clear-eyed about the stakes. We are standing up to policies that hurt people… We are doing the work to translate feelings into action. And the fact that some days it is really hard to keep at it makes it that much more remarkable that so many of us are, in fact keeping at it.
At this moment in history, our country depends on every citizen believing in the power of their actions even when that power is invisible and their efforts feel like an uphill battle.
We need to be ready to lose some fights because we will. John McCain recently reminded us, No just cause is futile even if it’s lost. What matters is to keep going, no matter what keep going.”
Date: May 13, 2018
Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple, returned to his alma mater, Duke, to deliver his “Be Fearless” address. As a mega-millionaire and business mogul, his words of advice are worth listening to.
“In every way, at every turn, the question we ask ourselves is not what can we do, but rather what should we do. Because that’s what Steve taught us. And from him, I learned to never be content with the way things are. I believe this mindset comes naturally to young people, and you should never let go of this restlessness.
How will you challenge the status quo? How will you push the world forward?
Be the last to accept the notion that the world you inherit cannot be improved.
You should be the last to accept it, and the first to change it.
Duke Graduates, be fearless. Be the last people to accept things as they are”
Date: May 11, 2018
Who better to send off graduates from a school of communication and journalism than Oprah Winfrey? The multi-talented Billionaire came armed with some good news and some bad news for the class of 2018.
“Everything around us, including and in particular the internet and social media is now being used to erode trust in our institution in our fear, in our elections, and wreak havoc on our infrastructure, it hands advertiser a map to our deepest desires, it enables misinformation to run rampant, attention spans to run shorts, and false articles from phony sites to run circles around major news outlets. We have literally walked into traffic while staring at our phones.”
“There really is a solution, and the solution is every one of you because you will become the new editorial gatekeepers. An ambitious army of truth seekers, because you will arm yourselves with the insights and the facts necessary to strike down deceit. You are in a position to keep all of those who now disparage real news in check.”
Date: May 12, 2018
Michael Bloomberg, another billionaire media mogul and former mayor of New York City, paid Rice University a visit on May 12. Low-key pandering aside, the guy knows what he’s talking about. Most notably, he advocated for the respect of honesty. In his own words:
“Bringing this country back together starts with the first lesson you learned here at Rice, which is that Honesty Matters. An everyone must be held accountable for being honest. So as you go out into the world, I urge you to do what honesty requires. Recognize that no one person nor either party has a monopoly on good ideas. Judge events based on what happened, not who did it. Hold yourself and our leaders to the highest standards of ethics and morality. respect the knowledge of scientists. Follow the data wherever it leads. listen to people who you disagree without trying to censor them or shout over them. and have the courage to say things that your own side doesn’t want to hear. “
Date: May 5, 2018
Ronan Farrow, at only 30 years old, gained national and international attention after breaking the Harvey Weinstein Sex scandal on October 23, 2017, for the New Yorker. His dad is also Woody Allen, though, who has been accused of sexual misconduct himself. This year, he spoke at Loyola Marymount University to share the lessons he’s learned throughout his relatively short but promising career.
“[a year ago] My career was on the rocks. And as a result of tackling this story [Harvey Weinstein] as doggedly as I did, it fell apart almost completely.
I had no idea if I was doing the right thing.
I remember a low point last fall where I hadn’t slept and I had lost all this weight, and I was on the phone with my poor, long-suffering partner, who dealt with a lot of annoying calls, and I just learned I might get scooped entirely, and I remember
thinking I swung too wide, I gambled too much, and no one is even gonna know that I lost everything…
Yet, I didn’t in fact stop. But also less nobly, I realized I had gambled too much and I realized there was no way out, but through…
Despite not stopping though I did start to think I had made the wrong call at times, and that’s the message I have for you today. In Hindsight, it’s always clear, whether or not your choices were the right one. In hindsight, you know whether it was right to stick to your guns.
But in the moment, you don’t know any of that. You don’t how important a story is gonna be. If you’re fighting because you’re right or if you’re fighting because your ego, desire to win and the notion of yourself as a hero is clouding your judgment. You can have a gut reaction, a feeling or an inner voice that tells you what to do, but you can’t be sure…
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teachings…”
Date: May 12, 2018
Chadwick Boseman, star of one of the biggest films of the year, Black Panther, spoke at the historically black college, Howard University on May 12. Black Panther was hailed for its groundbreaking cast that was made up of almost entirely African American actors. Boseman also portrayed Jackie Robinson in the movie 42 back in 2013 and Thurgood Marshall in the 2017 film Marshall. He is a Howard University Alumnus. This is what he has to say to the next generation:
“You would rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the are only meant to shape you for your purpose. I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated way…The one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning more victory, more glory, than you will not regret it. Now, [black panther voice] this is your time.”
Date: May 14, 2018
Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder of Chobani yogurt, overcame a lot to get to where he is today. A Turkish immigrant that moved to the United States in 1994, he has struggled not only with the perseverance and ambition that running a business entails, but with additional unseen obstacles as well. His message is very straightforward:
“If you believe in people you work with and listen to them, and learn from them, and give them a reason to believe in you. everything is possible. You might be an MBA, just don’t act like one. Acknowledging the wisdom and experience of a forklift operator or a security guard with 30 years on the job doesn’t diminish your own experience. Acknowledging the sacrifice of others that enable you to be in this position, does not diminish sacrifices that you made on your own. Be the kind of a leader that other people want to sacrifice for.
Acknowledge the wisdom around you. “
Date: May 16, 2018
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, addressed an enormous crowd at Yankee Stadium on May 16th. As a political leader himself, he offered diplomatic advice that can be useful for everyone.
“As you go forward from this place, I would like you to make a point of reaching out to people whose beliefs and values differ from your own. I would like you to listen to them, truly listen, and try to understand them, and find that common ground. You have a world of opportunity at your fingertips. But as you go forward from here, understand that just around the corner, a whole different order of learning awaits, in which your teachers will come from every station in life, every education level, every belief system, every lifestyle. And I hope you will embrace that. You have been students, you will continue to learn all your lives, but now it is also time for you to become leaders.”
Chance The Rapper
Date: May 12, 2018
Chance The Rapper, current music superstar and social justice advocate, spoke to graduates of Dillard University at their graduation. He offered sage advice for all of the students, by saying:
“The highest form of respect that we can pay to the people who came before us — the people who sacrificed for us and gave us everything — is to be better than them. … Many of you will strive to be artists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, scientists. And as you do that, there will be moments of fear, moments where you walk right up to the edge of what your heroes have accomplished and think to yourself, ‘What’s beyond this? I don’t know. I’m scared to go on.’ And that is the moment when you have become as great as your greatest inspiration. And that’s also when you cannot stop. Living up to your heroes is amazing, but it’s not good enough. The difference between goodness and greatness is going beyond. You have to push forward and surpass their greatness in order to pay homage to their struggle. Don’t be afraid.”
Date: May 11, 2018
Siddhartha Mukherjee, an American-Indian doctor best known for his 2010 book Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, appropriately dedicated his speech to the importance of listening.
“It is impossible to ignore that we have stopped listening to each other. Or, for that matter, that we have stopped listening to natural laws. Silence is the absolute prerequisite of listening…
…the premium placed on self-curation, on individuality, on identity — Who are you? What are you? — has created a perpetual echo chamber of self-actualization from which there is seemingly no escape. But you, of course, will be part of the listening generation… You are part of the new order. You will learn to hear each other out and listen to each other. Learn to inhabit each other’s joys and sufferings. You will fight on, but you will listen in.”