The 10 smartest lessons about life, money, and careers we heard in graduation speeches this year
Over the past month, college and high school graduation ceremonies featured speeches from high-profile figures.
Oprah told graduates at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to strive to aim high in their skills.
Actor Chadwick Boseman encouraged graduates at Howard University to find purpose rather than a job or a career.
Apple CEO Tim Cook advised graduates at Duke University to act with decency and kindness.
The 2018 graduation season is finally wrapping up for colleges and high schools across the country, and even if you didn’t get a diploma, hopefully you’re walking away with some solid life lessons.
Over the past month, a slew of high-profile commencement speakers have dispensed valuable pieces of advice they gleaned from their own careers. Chance the Rapper, President Donald Trump, and Apple CEO Tim Cook were among the leaders who took the stage to talk to new graduates about money, jobs and the meaning of success.
Weren’t paying attention in class? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a round-up of the 10 smartest tips we heard this year:
Oprah Winfrey: Aim high
While speaking at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism last month, the so-called “Queen of All Media” told students they should always be looking for lessons in the workplace. Winfrey added that graduates should strive to become so skilled in their fields that their “talent cannot be dismissed.”
Then, for good measure, she gave some specific life guidance:
“Eat a good breakfast. It really pays off. Pay your bills on time. Recycle. Make your bed. Aim high. Say thank you to people and actually really mean it. Ask for help when you need it, and put your phone away at the dinner table. Just sit on it, really. And know that what you tweet and post and Instagram today might be asked about in a job interview tomorrow or 20 years from tomorrow.
Be nice to little kids. Be nice to your elders. Be nice to animals. And know that it’s better to be interested than interesting. Invest in a quality mattress. I’m telling you, your back will thank you later. And don’t cheap out on your shoes.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter: Make an impact
Slaughter, the president and CEO of a think tank called New America, acknowledged that Washington University graduates were entering the world during a turbulent time. But she said that amid, the uncertainty, it’s time to “renew our economy and the social infrastructure that supports it” so all Americans can thrive.
Slaughter then outlined the next steps for graduates hoping to do just that — and make money:
“If you’re an aspiring business person or entrepreneur, go to where the real estate is cheap and the community is strong, where new tech sectors are springing up by reinventing traditional businesses from manufacturing to media.
If you’re an aspiring architect, go renovate your hometown’s downtown, putting beautiful old buildings to new uses.
If you’re an aspiring journalist, go reweave the fabric of local civic life by creating or joining new models of producing local news.
And even if you’re interested in foreign policy, as I am, know that Los Angeles has just appointed a deputy mayor for international affairs. Cities in every state have extensive sister city networks and work actively to attract foreign trade and investment.”
Chadwick Boseman: Find your purpose
The Black Panther star made headlines last month for doing the “Wakanda Forever” salute at Howard University, but his speech was profound, too. Boseman, a Howard alumnus himself, told graduates that they won’t regret taking a harder, longer path to success.
He also gave them a pep talk for their job hunt:
“When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should 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.”
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