As we bid farewell to our graduates, we wanted to leave them with imparting words of wisdom from those public figures who are success stories from all different walks of life– authors, public figures, CEO’s, etc. It’s important to note that each of the speeches, regardless of who addressed it, shared one universal theme, that life is what you make it no matter who you are or what you strive to be.
We hope that whether you’re currently graduating, still in the program, or an alumni, that these words can and will inspire you to be your best self and give you the push to go out and do what it is you intend to do, whether it’s publish a book, write for a magazine, or head a company.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies. The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.” -JK Rowling, Harvard, 2008
I think the only advice I can give you on how to live your life well is first off remember, it’s a cliché but I love clichés, it is not the things we do in live that we regret on our deathbed. It is the things we do not. I assure you I’ve done a lot of really stupid things and none of them bother me. All of the mistakes and all of the dopey things and all of the times I was embarrassed, they don’t matter. What matters is that I can look back and say pretty much anytime I got a chance to do something cool I tried to grab for it. That’s where my solace comes from. -Professor Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon, 2008
“Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.” –George Saunders, Syracuse University, 2013
“Although you don’t have complete control of the story of your life, you can still create that story. Although you will never fully know or successfully manipulate all of the characters who surface or disrupt your plot, you can respect the ones you can’t avoid by paying them close attention and doing them justice. The plot you choose may change or even elude you, but being your own story means you can control the theme. It also means you can invent the language to say who you are and how you mean in this world.” -Toni Morrison, Rutgers, 2011
“The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give in to peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.” -Ellen Degeneres, Tulane, 2009
“When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them.” -Jonathan Franzen, Kenyon College, 2011