fb-pixel Skip to main content

Wisdom from weekend commencement speakers

“As one of the great philosophers of our time [singer Taylor Swift] has said, ‘Haters going to hate, hate, hate hate, hate.’ Knowing who you are helps you, ‘Shake It Off,’” said Senator Elizabeth Warren at Bridgewater State University. Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

As the tassles keep turning, a recap of some of the notable commencement speeches in the area over the weekend.

Boston University -- Nina Tassler, former head of CBS Entertainment:

‘The best antidote to fear is your curiosity, passion, and creativity. The steps you take from this moment on, the same steps I took some 40 years ago, should be, as shared by Erica Jong, ‘to accept fear as a part of life – specifically the fear of change. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back.’ Embracing change and confronting fear will serve you well. I believe I had embraced elements of that philosophy, but it was my time at BU that gave me the strength to challenge these insecurities.”


Smith College -- Megan Smith, US chief technology officer:

“Class of 2016, we want you to feel confidence, your creative confidence. Because you have both deep talents and now extraordinary training—and our world needs your confidence now more than ever to bring your innovative brilliance forward.

And there’s a lot of bias in the world working against you, against women, against people of color, against LGBTQ people, those who are different in some way, against majority men who would show different sides of themselves. It causes talented people not to realize their full potential.

There are many ways we are all working to remove barriers people face, and one way to have confidence is to know that whatever your background, people like you—everyone, especially including women and people of color who have been so left out of the stories—have always done amazing things throughout our history. Your extraordinary alum Gloria Steinem says, “Women have always been an equal part of the past, just not a part of history.”

Babson College -- Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for spreading the concept of microcredit and microfinance globally:


“Imagine big things, but always start very small, as small as you can get. Your first step will make this all happen. Limit yourself to a tiny little social change and make that happen. It’s easy.

Mount Holyoke College -- Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer for Partners In Health:

“You commence today, leaving this place, this bubble, into a world that is positively waiting for your disruption. It is a world ripe for social change. Please, be brave. Walk together. Disrupt this place with me. Ours is a world where powerful and indeed hegemonic forces are threatening the welfare of humanity and of our climate. I believe that that leadership, women’s leadership, depends on disrupting hegemony. On truth-telling. On bravery. And on walking together in solidarity.’’

Fisher College -- Aleksander Skarlatos, one of three Americans who prevented a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train:

“We didn’t see what we did that day as anything special. It just had to be done, no question. They saw us as heroes, a term I reluctantly accept, because what’s heroic about doing what you’re supposed to do?”

Bridgewater State University -- Senator Elizabeth Warren

“As one of the great philosophers of our time [singer Taylor Swift] has said, ‘Haters going to hate, hate, hate hate, hate.’ Knowing who you are helps you, ‘Shake It Off.’”