Words of Wisdom at Graduation

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Inspiring words will accompany the nation's youth as they move out into the world. Commencement season is here, and the rich and notable are at the lecturn. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were among them. Albright quizzed students about where leadership starts.


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR news I'm Renee Montagne.


I'm Steve Inskeep. Friends, colleagues, honored MORNING EDITION listeners, we're going to take a few moments today to consider the inspiring words that will accompany our nation's youth as they set forth into the world to consider the graduation speech. We've brought together a few of the messages still ringing in the ears of this year's graduates. And we will begin in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, where former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright quizzed students about where leadership starts.

Ms. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT (Former Secretary of State): We expected to come from the outside, and so we wait and listen for the sound of some mighty voice. But real leadership comes from the quiet nudging of an inner voice. It comes from realizing that the time has come to move beyond waiting to doing.

MONTAGNE: At the College of St. Rose in New York State, painter and photographer Chuck Close had a message for graduating artists and their families.

Mr. CHUCK CLOSE (Painter and Photographer): I'd like to say something to the parents of the art majors. This is probably not what you had in mind, you know? You hoped maybe - I don't know, maybe medical school, maybe a degree in law, but I want to tell you that a life in art can be a wonderful life. Artists live better at near-poverty level income than yuppie bond traders do at much larger income.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: And at Howard University here in Washington, D.C., newly awarded honorary Doctor of Humanities Oprah Winfrey shared these thoughts.

Ms. OPRAH WINFREY: I would beseech you to remember what Harriet Tubman said of her efforts to spirit slaves from the plantation. Harriet Tubman once said that she could have liberated thousands more if only she could have convinced them that they were slaves. So do not be a slave to any form of selling out. Maintain your integrity.

MONTAGNE: That was, of course, the voice of Oprah Winfrey at Howard University.

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