Words of Wisdom We Can All Take From This Year’s Celebrity Commencement Speeches

This year’s college grad season was filled with celebrity commencement speeches. Charlie Day, the actor from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shonda Rhimes, writer and producer of shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, and singer John Legend provided some awesome, timeless advice that we can all follow.


Charlie Day, Merrimack College
Day turned down a bank job after he graduated and decided to move to New York to pursue acting.

Best advice: “Don’t wait for your break, make your break. Go make it happen for yourself…Do what’s uncomfortable, and scary, and hard, but pays off in the long run. Be willing to fail. Let yourself fail…Because without this struggle, what is your success anyway?”Instead of waiting for things to work themselves out, go out and control your own fate!

Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth College
Rhimes always wanted to be a writer and dreamed of becoming award-winning author Toni Morrison, but she soon realized she should instead focus on discovering herself.

Best advice: “Ditch the dream and be a do-er, not a dreamer…You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new…Just … do. So you think, ‘I wish I could travel.’ Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go…Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week.”Stop making excuses for why you can’t. Actively pursue ways to achieve your goals and your desires, while giving time to a greater cause in your community. 

John Legend, University of Pennsylvania
Legend had a perfect childhood until his grandmother’s death threw his mother into depression and drug abuse. After that point he never fully committed to anything in order to avoid feeling pain or vulnerability. He did however give 100% of his passion and focus to his music.

Best advice: “The key to success, the key to happiness, is opening your mind and your heart to love…So love your self, love your work, love the people around you…Pursue this life of love with focus and passion and ambition and courage. Give it your all.†Happiness is love, and our relationships with our families and friends are everything. We have to give our all to our relationships and our passions. 

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