Graduating Class of 2013–Oprah, Kerry Washington & Wynton Marsalis Has Something to Say

505479269_1503767455_z (3)

In honor of cap and gown season and in the spirit of my six-year-old niece making the sweet transition from kindergarten to numero uno grade, (Aside: OMG, I can’t believe she’s in numbered grades already, geesh where does time go? End of  Aside.) I got to thinking about my own college graduation ceremony, and before you ask, no I won’t reveal the class year, just be satisfied that it was fairly recent…well, depending on your definition of fairly. Anyway, I pondered  how uplifting New York Senator Chuck Schumer was in teaching my Hofstra University class, okay, you pried it out of me, class of 2006, how we each have a choice to go after what we truly desire or travel down the already paved path we think we belong on. Yeah, profound stuff. My curiosity got the better of me and wanted to know what commencement speakers are advising the class of 2013, which has been speculated about, researched on, and are now part of the growing group of student loan debt payers. Welcome to the club, guys. Anywho, I rounded up a couple of speakers who I believe are most inspiring and thought-provoking. Congrats Class of 2013!!!


Media Maven Oprah Winfrey took her legendary motivational speaker self to the hallowed halls of Haaahhhvaaadd or better known as Harvard to give the commencement speech. She taught the graduating class that failure is inevitable but not unconquerable. Favorite quote:  It doesn’t matter how far you rise at some point you will stumble. But, there is no such thing as failure, just life trying to move us in another direction.

CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien wasn’t too far away. As an alumnus of Harvard, she was the class guest speaker. She  told the class of 2013 to find purpose in helping others. Favorite quote: You have been positioned to do great things, but do them in service of others and you will discover that selflessness is ultimately what makes you great.

Check out below why O’Brien won’t give the Harvard graduates advice.

NY Giants linebacker Justin Tuck gave an engaging and witty speech (after receiving his honorary degree–he popped that newly earned-appropriately Giant blue collar) to graduates of  St. Francis College. As founder of Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for literacy program that motivates kids to read and write, he urged the class of 2013 to find solutions to social problems plaguing our communities. Favorite quote: What cause are you going to champion? What cause will you make your own? We should all have an uncanny desire to service.

Check out below why Tuck asked the graduating class to get on their feet.

Jazz Icon Wynton Marsalis put the 2013 University of Vermont graduates in the shoes of the parents, friends and teachers who supported them through their journey. In his emotional speech, he even managed to shout out his son Simmie who was also a graduate. He advised the graduates not to be far from those you most depend on and always live in the moment. Favorite quote: Each moment is a procession from the future into the past and that sweet spot is always the present. Live in that sweet spot. Be present.

Find out why Marsalis played “When the Saints Go Marching In” below:

Kerry Washington, yes, she addressed the elephant in the room. What can Olivia Pope teach me about my journey to adulthood? Especially since she’s, well, the Presiden’t mistress. Welp, it’s a show folks. Ms. Kerry Washington plays a mistress on TV, in real life she is an alumnus of George Washington University and is more than qualified to advise the 2013 graduating class to fulfill their purpose by developing their own story. Favorite quote: You can follow someone else’s script; do what is expected and follow the status quo or you can look at all you have accomplished today, and use it as fuel to venture forth and write your own story. 

Find out below what famous person Washington is related to who is also an alumni of GWU.

Last, but certainly not least because I feel Dr. Tererai Trent is the most fascinating. Her name may not be as recognizable as the others above. But she is a walking, talking inspiration with her “hunger” to educate herself in a country–Zimbabwe –that doesn’t promote educating girls. However, she chose to educate herself. Three degrees–bachelor’s, masters and PH.D.–later Dr. Trent’s focus is on her non profit Tinogona Foundation (meaning it is achievable) that offers educational opportunities for girls in Africa. Earlier this year she gave a commencement address to graduates of Walden University, she urged them to align their dreams with being a force of change. Favorite quote: Your goals and your dreams have greater meaning if their connected to your community, when your dreams are connected to the greater good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s