Alumnus and award-winning actor Chadwick Boseman delivered the Howard University 2018 commencement address, challenging the graduates to use the lessons learned in college to develop their innate life purpose.
“I stand here today knowing that my Howard University education prepared me to play Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall and T’Challa,” said Boseman. “But what do you do when the principles and standards that were instilled in you at Howard close the doors in front of you? Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is and how you need to fight it.”
Boseman described career obstacles that, although difficult, eventually led him to his true calling.
“When you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, further education…you would rather find purpose than a job,” said Boseman. “Purpose crosses disciplines. It is the reason that you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”
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Howard University President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick encouraged the graduates to be bold as they embark into their chosen careers.
“Don’t stand safely on the sidelines; take risks, learn how to be wrong. It is the best way to learn and grow,” said Dr. Frederick. “Build a culture of generous listening so that others may be emboldened to take risks, too.”
Howard University awarded 2,217 degrees, including 343 master’s degrees, and 90 Ph.Ds. More than 382 students received professional degrees in law, medicine, pharmacy and dentistry. The 2018 graduates represent 39 states/territories and 32 countries; 117 graduates are from the District of Columbia.
In addition to Boseman, who received the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Howard’s 2018 honorary degree recipients included Vivian W. Pinn, M.D., the first full-time director for research on women’s health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Colbert I. King, Washington Post Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist; and Gwendolyn S. King, president of Podium Prose, and former corporate affairs vice president of PEPCO.