Today in class we watched three commencement speeches, (or commen cement speeches as Ellen DeGeneres would say), by J.K Rowling, Ellen DeGeneres and Steven Spielberg. They gave their advice to graduates of different universities; J.K Rowling and Steven Spielberg for Harvard and Ellen DeGeneres for Tulane. Whilst all were great, their approach differed, along with their advice. Ellen DeGeneres’ commencement speech to the 2009 graduates of Tulane was filled with humor and irony. Her main advice was to follow your passion and be a compassionate human being. Her speech was very light-hearted as she talked about her life before fame; her failiures and what she learnt from them.
When I was asked to make the commencement speech, I immediately said yes. Then I went to look up what commencement meant. – Ellen DeGeneres
J.K Rowlings commencement speech however, carried a more serious note. She advised the graduates about the importance of mistakes and our imagination. In addition to that she also talked about how priveliged we are as people of a democratic and free country (talking about America of course, but it can be associated with Norway too), and how we should use the power we have to: talk our minds, fight for the struggling and demonstrate for what we care about.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. 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. – J.K Rowling
Steven Spielberg’s commencement speach was the last we watched in class. He talked about the “character-defining” choices we make everyday while also touching on the fact that our generation (the generation of the Harvard graduates of 2016, but also the generation of this class) has the steering wheel now; It’s up to us to lead the world on the right path moving forward, and leave a peaceful and free world for the generations to come. He also adviced the graduates to follow their intuition, not just their brain or their conscience.
The conscience tells you what you should do, while your intuition tells you what you could do. -Steven Spielberg
In conclusion I think I liked Ellen DeGeneres’ speech the most, but I think all of the speeches were great and motivating. And if I were to give any advice for next years students it would be to not take it all to seriously; everything will not go exactly as you planned. Things will be bad, things will be good, whatever. Try to enjoy it as much as you can, and make the most out of your first school year. And if it doesn’t go so well, you still got two more years ahead of you, not to mention your whole life!