Stars Giving Commencement Speeches and Earning Honorary Degrees in 2022

Taylor Swift, Tyler Perry, Kamala Harris and more have imparted wisdom on the class of 2022

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Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift waves after receiving an honorary degree during a graduation ceremony for New York University at Yankee Stadium in New York, Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Seth Wenig/AP Photo

The songstress addressed graduates at NYU's commencement at Yankee Stadium on May 18, offering them her "life hacks" before receiving an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

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Adam Sandler

Congrats to all grads
Adam Sandler Instagram

The actor gave a speech during NYU Tisch School of the Arts' commencement ceremony on May 19, 34 years after his own graduation from the school.

After cracking jokes for a couple of minutes, Sandler said of the art-focused goals of himself and this year's grads, "We just want to give our fellow humans an escape from this increasingly psychotic world we live in."

"The biggest reason we Tischies chose the arts is because we literally can't do anything else," he quipped. "What was I gonna do, become an investment banker? I can't even find my wallet three times a week."

The actor and comedian's "two pieces of advice" to parents? "No. 1, somehow slip your kid's headshot to Mr. Martin Scorsese before this event ends," he joked. "He'll love it, I promise. He's probably gonna take the back exit outta here, so make sure you get there before he does."

"And do not take no for an answer. That's how Leo[nardo DiCaprio]'s mom did it," Sandler said.

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Derek White/Getty

"Mama, I made it," the rapper told his mom while addressing grads and earning an honorary bachelor's degree at Georgia State University on May 4.

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Taraji P. Henson

Brian Stukes/Getty

Already an alumna of Howard University, Henson returned on May 7 to accept her honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and spoke about her treatment as a Black actress in Hollywood.

"At the end of the day, I saw $30,000," Henson shared of her small paycheck for the mega-hit The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. "I was angry. I was disgusted, and I was hurt. But instead of stewing in that negative space, instead of becoming cynical, I decided that I would allow hope not hurt shape my work."

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Abby Wambach

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Courtesy Loyola Marymount University

In a speech that felt particularly poignant as the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team pushed for equal pay, Wambach said to Loyola Marymount grads on May 7, "When you are the one at the table with the least privilege, speak up."

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Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett Celebrates Receiving an Honorary Doctorate: ‘Happy and Humbled’.
Angela Bassett/Instagram

On May 6, the American Horror Story actress received an honorary doctorate from Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Addressing the graduating class, Bassett powerfully urged students to honor the values of royalty set forth by ODU's mascot the Monarch, a lion with a crown on its head.

"Thanks to a little film called Black Panther, I think I know a little bit about royalty … well, fictional royalty at least," Bassett joked, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

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Tyler Perry

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Miguel Martinez/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

Praising teachers, the producer said to Emory students on May 9: "I'm 52 years old, and I'm still meeting professors. And what that means is anyone who comes into your life, anyone who comes to teach you something, to bring value ... those people count as professors." At the ceremony, he also earned an honorary Doctorate of Letter.

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Billie Jean King

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Christopher Evans

"Don't let others define you, because believe me, they will try, but don't you dare let them define you. You define yourself in your life," the tennis icon said in her May 15 address at Springfield College.

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Vice President Kamala Harris

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Alan Poizner/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"There are future members of your wedding party in this class. Someone sitting near you will ask you to be godparent to their child," the vice president shared of memories made at college during her address to Tennessee State University grads on May 7. Harris also received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

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Henry Winkler

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Kris Craig

Keeping his comedic touch, the Barry star told students at the New England Institute of Technology on May 1, "This brain didn't get geometry — and not only is it okay, I never used it. No one ever said, 'Hey, an isosceles triangle is going to help you with this part.' "

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Stacey Abrams

Celeb Honorary Degrees

At her alma mater Spelman College on May 15, the Georgia gubernatorial candidate told the graduating class, "I was taught at Spelman College to be bold in my ambitions, to believe that I am capable of whatever I can imagine."

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Maria Shriver

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Lon Horwedel

"Fear is indeed a deadly virus for which there is no vaccine ... By embracing that which terrifies you, you will discover the things that make you feel most alive," Shriver told University of Michigan students on April 30 after receiving her honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

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Kathy Hilton

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Courtesy of Academy of Art University

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star earned her honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from San Francisco-based Academy of Art University on May 18. In her speech, she spoke on her "Pearls from the Profession," offering life lessons on preparation and purpose — as well as pranks, which she's known for on the reality series.

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Bobby Bones

Celeb Honorary Degrees
Courtesy University of Arkansas

On May 14, the radio and TV personality received an honorary doctorate from the University of Arkansas in his home state.

"In life, there are two things you can control, your attitude and your work ethic," Bones said in his address to the crowd. "Everything else you do somebody else has influence on."

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Dwyane Wade

Receiving his Doctor of Humane Letters at his alma mater, Marquette University, on May 22, Wade told graduates: "As we become more self-aware, we achieve a better understanding of who we are. We discover our values. Our character. What we consider to be right or wrong. We discover what drives us, what inspires us and motivates us. Through self-awareness we are given the opportunity to design who we truly want and deserve to be."

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Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh's Instagram story stars getting honorary degrees in 2022 gallery
Molly Yeh/instagram

The Food Network star was thrilled to score her honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the Unviersity of North Dakota on May 15.

"I have had students work in production for my show," Yeh, who lives on a farm at the Minnesota-North Dakota border, told the crowd. "Students have tested cake recipes for my cookbooks. And all along the way, I have been so inspired by how kind and talented and hardworking all of the students at UND are. I feel so proud to call UND my hometown university."

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