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It is graduation season for the class of 2018 and we have many accomplished people speaking at Universities across the country. I graduated from USC Annenberg School of Communication last month and Oprah Winfrey was our commencement speaker.

 Our dean Willow Bay made it extremely special and memorable for all of us at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism by hosting the ceremony at the iconic Shrine auditorium. She also made it even more memorable by giving everyone a chance to take picture with her with our diplomas. This indeed is a special moment and a memory of a lifetime to all the graduates. This picture will make it to the list of special moments in one’s life, on the walls, showcases and so on. Previous years, it was held at the Mcqarty Quad at USC near Doheny Library. I attended the ceremony last year and comparing it to this year, I would say it put the previous years to shame in size, scale, grandeur, event management and everything that you could think of in every way possible.

My parents flew halfway across the world from India just to attend the ceremony. Living in a small city all their life, this was their first time in America and they were wowed by this special ceremony. I’d like to appreciate and sincerely thank our dean Willow Bay for such a grandeur, spectacular and a fantastically managed event because for a school that is the best in the world in media and communication, it truly deserved a graduation like this, it was long overdue and it has happened now.

It was May 11th 2018, Friday morning around 11AM, as we marched into the iconic Shrine Auditorium, Oprah was on stage with our Dean and the faculty. Everyone were eagerly waiting to listen to Oprah. Infact few of my classmates told me they would definitely cry after her speech even weeks before the actual graduation. So it was no surprise when Oprah was invited to speak, she got a standing ovation even before uttering a word. I was curious to know what she was going to speak about and at the end of it, as expected, she inspired the young minds. I saw tears from many of my fellow graduates. Here’s a compilation and highlights of her inspiring speech to the class of 2018.

Class of 2018
  1. “Eat a good breakfast, pay your bills on time, recycle, make your bed, aim high, say Thank you and mean it.”
  2. “Ask for help when you need it and put your phone away at the dinner table.”
  3. “Put your honor where your mouth is. When you give your word, keep it . Show up. Do the work. Get your hands dirty.”
  4. “You build a legacy not from one thing but everything. Your legacy is every life you touch.”
  5. “History is still being written. You are writing it everyday. What you do and don’t do will be a part of it.”
  6. “It is better to be interested than interesting.”
  7. “Invest in quality mattress and don’t cheap out on your shoes.”
  8. “If you are fighting with someone you love, find your way back to them for life is short even on the longest days.”
  9. “Don’t ever get confused between what is legal and what is moral. They are different animals. In life either you are principled or not.”
  10. “Do the right especially when nobody’s looking.”
  11. “Don’t equate money and fame with accomplishment and character. One doesn’t automatically follow the other.”
  12. “Your job is not who you are, it is just what you are doing on the way to who you would become.”
  13. “Stop comparing yourself to other people, you are only on this planet to be you not someone else’s imitation of you.”
  14. “Your life journey is about learning to become more of who you are and fulfilling the highest and truest expression of yourself as a human being. You will do that through your work and art, relationships and your love.”
  15. “Your degree is a privilege. That privilege obligates you to use what you’ve learnt to lend a hand to somebody who doesn’t get to be here.”
  16. “When time comes to bet on yourself , I hope you double down.”
  17. “Every great decision I made, I trusted my gut.”
  18. “Pick a problem – There are too many to solve and do something about it.”
  19. “You can’t fix everything and save everyone but you can do something. For somebody, your something is
  20. “Give voice to people who desperately need their voice told.”
  21. “You can use your gifts to illuminate darkness in our world.”
  22. “Cynicism clouds your clarity, lowers your standard, compromises your integrity, chokes your empathy. Use that moment to encourage you, embolden you and push you in the rising of your life.”
  23. “This moment in time is your time to rise.”
  24. “Be the Truth. You make a choice every single day to exemplify honesty because truth exonerates and convicts. Disinfects and galvanizes. Truth will shield against corruption, haters and despair.”
  25. “Challenging times are here to let us know that we need to take a stand for our right to have hope with every
    ounce of wit and courage we can muster.”

She spoke about simple things in life that made an extraordinary difference to individuals, community and to the world. She ended on a note wishing, “curiosity, confidence, ethics, enlightenment, guts, purpose and passion. I hope everyone contribute to conversation of our culture and time”. I am fan of motivational speeches and I actually binge watch them. To be present amidst a talk that was endearing, powerful and inspirational, I feel truly blessed. My favorite quote was “You build a legacy not from one thing but everything. Your legacy is every life you touch.” Do share in the comments your favorite quote from Oprah’s speech.

Watch the ceremony highlights: