Inspiring words commencement speakers shared with 2022 graduates

It is graduation season and that means politicians, actors, athletes and even some of us at NewsHour have been giving commencement speeches, hoping to impart some encouragement and advice to college grads as they head into their next chapter.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is graduation season, and that means politicians, actors, athletes, and even some of us from here from the "NewsHour" have been giving commencement speeches, hoping to impart some encouragement and advice to college grads as they head into their next chapter.

  • Dr. Ken Jeong, Comedian/Actor:

    Your class is the toughest class to have ever graduated college in recent history. You started out your sophomore year when the pandemic again. You survived COVID, hurricanes, lockdown, online classes.

    You have gone through vaccines, Omicron, BA.2. You have been through so much and have come out stronger for the experience. And now you are here. You are graduating and more than ready to face the real world, because you already have.

  • Tyler Perry, Actor/Producer:

    I heard a saying once that, if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. I'm sure you have heard that.

    But I want to challenge that, because, if you do what you love, you will work harder than you ever have worked and harder than you can ever imagine. Your dreams will call for that kind of commitment.

  • Taylor Swift, Singer/Songwriter:

    Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth. The people who wanted it the least were the ones I wanted to date and be friends in high school. The people who want it the most are the people I now hire to work for my company.

    Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: If you stay in your comfort zone, sticking to what you know, then you are making a bet. You are betting that your life and the world will stay the same. But let me tell you, you are going to lose that bet every single time.

  • Abby Wambach, Former U.S. Soccer Player:

    As you head out into the big world, forget about the big world.

    But don't you dare abandon the small worlds, the ones you can see and hear and touch. The only worlds you are obligated to change are the small ones, the office you are in, the relationship you are in, the Uber you're in, the dinner table you're at and the community in which you live.

    Elizabeth Bonker, 2022 Valedictorian (through computer voice): God gave you a voice. Use it. And know the irony of a nonspeaking autistic encouraging you to use your voice is not lost on me, because, if you can see the worth in me, then you can see the worth in everyone you meet.

  • Billie Jean King, Former U.S. Tennis Champion:

    Don't let others define me define you, because, believe me, they will try. But don't you dare let them define you. You define yourself.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Go where you are wanted, where you and your voice and your talents are needed.


  • Amna Nawaz:

    Surround yourself with the people who see you, who really see you, and don't waste your time with the people who can't. Welcome into your world the ones who will tell you the hard truths, not because they want to bring you down, but because they want to help you get where you are going.

  • Tim Cook, CEO, Apple:

    I hope you will be kind and compassionate. I hope you will see there is wonder in being part of something bigger than yourself and magic to be found in the service of others.

    I hope you will be good stewards of the planet we inhabit and participants in the fight to make it better, more equal, more accessible, more just.

    Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand: Through genuine debate and dialogue, through rebuilding trust and information and one another, through empathy, let us reclaim the space in between. After all, there are some things in this life that make the world feel small and connected. Let kindness be one of them.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Continue to spend time with people who are different from you. Seek out people who are not in your circle. They will bring different experiences. Maybe they need a friend.

    I am confident that each one of you has the ability and the determination to make a difference in the world. We are counting on you. Congratulations.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    And on our Web site, we — some of us were surprised by that, but we are glad to share it with you.

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