Jane Goodall's Commencement Speech Hit All the Right Inspirational Notes
Well-known British conservationist Jane Goodall recently delivered a powerful and inspirational commencement address to the 2016 University of Redlands graduating class. As with many commencement speeches, it’s jam-packed with lessons and well-worth watching. But, since you’re probably reading this from your desk and don’t exactly have 18 minutes or so to view Goodall's part of the graduation ceremony, I figured I would do you a favor and go through the highlights.
Along with discussing the importance of gratitude (which truly can’t be said enough), she also very clearly instructed the class not to give up. “If you really want something,” she said, you’ve got to take advantage of opportunity, and though it may seem obvious, Goodall pointed out that “you’re going to have to work really hard.”
Few things come easily, and Goodall shared her own story of moving to Africa to study and live with the chimp community in spite of various obstacles. Working really hard to achieve a goal or accomplish something big is advice that never fatigues. She would never be where she is today (nor would the world know as much as they do about chimps) if she hadn’t pushed through her barriers.
One of the most poignant moments of the speech was when Goodall pointed out how in spite of our differences, we are all alike at the core: "We may have different colored skin, we may be from different cultures, we may eat different things and wear different clothes, but wherever you go in the world: If you cry, your tears are the same. If you’re happy, you laugh, and the laughter around the world is the same."
While this is a lovely sentiment, one of my personal favorite moments was Goodall’s touching on the importance of social media for making things happen. If, for example, you’re passionate about not killing African elephants for tusks, you aren’t helpless—even if you’re working at a marketing job in the middle of America. You can use your social media platforms to reach out and find other people who share your beliefs. Together you can make an impact, explained the commencement speaker.
Her point’s excellent. For example, if you want to combat the rampant stereotype that Millennials are lazy, use your voice to promote instances of all the awesome, forward-thinking, hard-working young professionals you know and emulate. Get the word out there that Millennials aren’t just motivated, but they're also accomplishing awesome things. In fact, showcase your “indomitable spirit” on these platforms, and who knows what you’ll be capable of accomplishing.
Inspired to watch the whole speech? Click here.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author