There’s nothing like a good commencement speech to get you inspired about your future. Even if you haven’t been in school for years...or decades...graduation quotes can boost your career motivation, especially when the words of wisdom are coming from some of your favorite celebs.

In a particularly humble and uplifting speech delivered at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Pharrell Williams — who was receiving an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from NYU — spoke to graduates about the importance of activism and effecting change. He began by telling the audience that his mother is a “lifelong educator” and that he’s “forever a student,” before noting that being anonymous is a thing of the past: “How can we inspire if we are behind the scenes?” he asked.

In his nearly 10-minute address, Pharrell urged the crowd to continue fighting for gender equality. “This generation is first to understand that we need to lift up our women,” he said, driving home the point that empowering women should be a priority for all. “Imagine the possibilities when we remove imbalance; imagine the possibilities when women are not held back. Your generation is unraveling deeply entrenched laws, principles, and misguided values that have held women back for far too long, and, therefore, have held us all back,” he declared, to much applause.

He added that the graduates represent the first generation that’s navigating the world “with the security and confidence to treat women as equal.”


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