Taylor Swift, 32, left a lasting impression when she gave a commencement speech at New York University’s graduation on May 18. The singer was awarded with an honorary degree from the prestigious school and gave the class of 2022 some insightful advice when she spoke at the podium at Yankee Stadium during the big and exciting celebration. During one section of her speech, Taylor warned the graduates that they would make mistakes and go through tough times during their lives, but she urged them to embrace the missteps because of where it would eventually lead them.
Of course, this is something Taylor knows about all too well. “Having the world treat my love like a spectator sport, in which I lose every single game, was not a great way to date in my teens and 20s,” Taylor said. “But it taught me to protect my private life fiercely.” She also referenced the time she was “cancelled” on the Internet, which happened after Kim Kardashian called her a “snake” amidst a public feud with Kanye West. “Getting cancelled on the Internet and nearly losing my career gave me an excellent knowledge of all the types of wine,” the singer joked.
Taylor’s speech concluded with some inspiring words for the graduates: “We are led by our gut instincts, our intuition, our desires and fears, our scars and our dreams, and you will screw it up sometimes. So will I. And when I do, you will most likely read about it on the Internet. Anyway, hard things will happen to us. We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it. As long as we are fortunate enough to be breathing, we will breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out. I am a doctor now, so I know how breathing works! I hope you know how proud I am to share this day with you. We’re doing this together. So let’s just keep dancing like we’re the class of ’22!”
Aside from referencing her song “22”, Taylor also referenced another one of her hits. “To all the incredible parents, family members, mentors, teachers, allies, friends and loved ones here today who have supported these students in their pursuit of educational enrichment, let me say to you now, ‘Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you,'” Taylor said. Of course, “Welcome to New York” is a song off her record 1989, and the reference obviously has fans wondering if that will be the next re-recorded album that she drops!
Taylor’s honorary degree from NYU was first announced in March, when it was also revealed she’d be the highly-anticipated commencement speaker at the graduation. After the announcement, it wasn’t only students of the school who were thrilled about her appearance, many of her devoted fans were also over the moon and even tried to score tickets to see their favorite songwriter, despite the fact that they didn’t know anyone at the graduation. NYU senior Sean Nesmith started receiving direct messages on an NYU Facebook group shortly after word got out about Taylor’s speech and talked about the unexpected experience, in an interview.
“I just got DMs from people who found me from an NYU Facebook group—which I thought those groups were closed,” Sean, an international relations and public policy student, said, according to Inside Higher Ed. “People have been messaging me asking how much for me to sell my tickets.”
Taylor was one of six honorary degree recipients at NYU this year. They were confidentially nominated by NYU community members and then vetted by university staff, reviewed by the University Senate, and ultimately approved by NYU’s Board of Trustees, according to NYU spokesperson John Beckham.
“We’re tremendously proud of the six honorary degree recipients who have agreed to accept this honor and take part in our historic doubleheader commencements this year,” Beckman reportedly wrote in an email. “They collectively represent excellence in music, social justice advocacy, the advancement of interracial understanding, neuroscience, education, and American letters.”
Beckman also spoke about Taylor directly to assure fans that she would not be performing. “Folks should know that Ms. Swift—whom we are very honored to have as one of our honorary degree recipients this year—will be speaking, not giving a performance,” he reportedly wrote. “Of course, her fans are very avid, so I’m not sure even that awareness will curb their ardor.”