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5 Graduation Speeches from BAME Speakers


It's that time of year again, when university graduates put on those gowns and head off to their graduation ceremony. If you're one of them, we'd like to say congratulations!

It's a time honoured tradition to have distinguished speakers departing their pearls of wisdom and advice at these ceremonies, and we hope you were inspired by the speaker at your graduation. If you're not celebrating your graduation this week, or could do with some more advice, we've compiled a list of inspiration speakers from people of BAME background. Hope you're inspired!

Barack Obama - Howard University 2016

James Baldwin once wrote, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

Now it's your turn. And the good news is, you're ready. And when your journey seems too hard, and when you run into a chorus of cynics who tell you that you're being foolish to keep believing or that you can't do something, or that you should give up, or you should just settle - you might say to yourself a little phrase that I've found handy these last eight years: Yes, we can.

Lin-Manuel Miranda - University of Pennsylvania, 2016

My dear, terrified graduates - you are about to enter the most uncertain and thrilling period of your lives.The stories that you are about live are the ones you will be telling your children and grandchildren and therapists.They are the temp gigs and internships before you find your passion. They are the cities you live in before the opportunity of a lifetime pops up halfway across the world. They are the relationships in which you hang on for dear lives even as your shoulder cracks in protest. They are the times you say no to the good opportunities so you can say yes to the best opportunities. They are what Verdi survived to bring us La Traviata.They are the stories in which you figure out who you are.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Wellesley College, 2015

We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know. And as you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in.

Shonda Rimes - Dartmouth College, 2014

So Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dream. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you're paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn't matter. You don't have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn't have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just... do. So you think, "I wish I could travel." Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I'm serious.

Steve Jobs - Stanford University, 2005

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.


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