- In light of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's graduating class of 2020 missed out on traditional milestones like prom and physical graduations.
- They also face a grim economy, with many of them losing jobs and internships as well as summer plans.
- To uplift and instill hope in this year's graduates, speakers like Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks have shared motivating messages for remote commencement events.
- Actors and entertainment icons like Cardi B, Matthew McConaughey, and Awkwafina also offered advice for soon-to-be graduates along with inspirational leaders like educational activist Malala Yousafzai, and US Olympic athlete Simone Biles.
- Keep reading for a selection of messages from leaders and stars for this year's graduates.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
In a recent commencement speech, Tom Hanks also called this year's graduates "chosen ones."
"Congratulations to you, chosen ones," Hanks said in his commencement speech for graduates of Wright State University in Ohio earlier in May. "I am calling you 'chosen ones' because you have been chosen in many ways.
"First, by the temperament and discipline you've lived by, by the creative fires that are inside of you, and the instinctive lunges of your desires," Hanks said.
Hanks continued: "The future is always uncertain, but we who celebrate what you have done, who celebrate all of your achievements, we are certain of one thing on this day: You will not let us down."
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles said to this year's graduates: "You've already won."
"As an athlete, there is nothing quite like the bus ride home after a win. You're exhausted and could probably use a shower," Biles said in her speech for Facebook and Instagram. "But bottom line, you're happy."
"Well, graduates, today is your bus ride home. Your victory lap. It is our chance to tell you that we know how hard you worked to bring home that diploma. I know you're missing what is supposed to be your medal ceremony, but that ceremony doesn't change a thing. You've already won," the Olympian said in her address.
"We are so proud of everything you've accomplished," Biles said. "You did it."
"It's more than a diploma," Cardi B told graduates. "It's knowledge, it's knowing that you did it."
"I just want to say congrats to all my high school and to all my college graduates," Cardi B said in her video address for Instagram and Facebook. "Congrats congrats congrats! And don't let no Coronavirus, no nothing, take this special moment from you."
The singer also shared her advice to college-bound students.
"When you go to college, they just offer you so many different classes, and it's so fun, but make sure the class you're going to take is going to benefit you," Cardi B said.
She continued, offering a message for college graduates: "I also want to tell you guys it's more than a diploma, it's more than graduation, it's knowledge, it's knowing that you did it."
"Now you're about to start your life," Cardi B said. "You're about to make some money, you're about to show your skills on what you worked for."
"Live in a way now where you can look back later and say 'I think I handled that pretty well,'" Matthew McConaughey said in his address to the class of 2020.
"You are originals! Enjoy that," McConaughey said in his Facebook and Instagram video message to graduates.
"The big learning is coming in the future for you, I promise, the experiential learning where you get to put what you learned in school to test," he said. "This is when it gets fun. This is when it gets hard."
"Don't bother yourself too much if you're not quite sure what you want to do in life," McConaughey said. "I'm 50, I have many days where I'm still not quite sure what I want to be. But I work on it, I stay in the process."
"Live in a way now where you can look back later and say 'I think I handled that pretty well.' Congratulations, self," the actor concluded his speech.
Sterling K. Brown said that he hopes graduates will "look back on this event with the clarity of 20/20 vision and recognize it as a beautiful beginning."
"All your hard work has finally paid off and you're moving on to the next phase of your education, or for some of you, into the real world," Brown said in a Facebook and Instagram commencement video. "Where you start in life does not dictate where you end up."
"And while the circumstances of your graduation may not be ideal, you will look back on this event with the clarity of 20/20 vision and recognize it as a beautiful beginning to where you are now," the actor continued.
"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. A little 'Friday Night Lights' for you," Brown said. "Go out and be brilliant."
"Keep on trucking," said actress Awkwafina, who joked that her other piece of advice was to never microwave metal — "not even a tiny spoon."
"I know that you guys are graduating under very unusual and not ideal circumstances, but you guys made it. And making it is not always an easy thing to do," the actress and comedian said in her speech to the class of 2020.
"I was one of those students who was always kind of barely making it. I think I did summer school for gym," Awkwafina joked.
"Some other tips and advice I can give you: Just keep on trucking, keep on going, move in to the moon, do not microwave metal, not even a tiny spoon," she said.
The "Crazy Rich Asians" actress ended her speech by saying: "You're great, you made it, I love you."
"Keep the faith, keep on moving, keep climbing," Miley Cyrus said, referencing her famous song "The Climb" in her address to the graduating class.
"I'm truly honored to celebrate each and every one of you high school and college seniors and all that you've accomplished," Cyrus said in her Facebook and Instagram video.
"As I was thinking about you, the class of 2020 and how you inspire me, I knew I wanted to share this song with you. It feels full of a new meaning. Keep the faith, keep on moving, keep climbing, here's 'The Climb.'"
"Listen to Oprah," said Hugh Jackman in a video for the class of 2020.
"To the graduating class of 2020, congratulations. I have one major piece of advice for you: Listen to Oprah. About everything," Jackman said in a Facebook video shared Saturday.
The actor known for "The Greatest Showman" added: "And one more thing. Wear sunscreen. I mean it."
Watch Hugh Jackman's full video here.
Steven Spielberg encouraged graduates to hold tight to their dreams.
During an early May episode of John Krasinski's YouTube series "Some Good News," Spielberg told graduates to believe in their dreams.
"Dreams are a great test, because a dream is going to test your resolve, and you're going to know a dream from a pipe dream," Spielberg said. "You're going to know a dream from a casual brush with something that you got excited about, and then it evaporates."
He continued: "A real dream is something that not only hangs on to you but you will hang onto it. And it will power you through every obstacle that people and your environment will throw against you."
"If we're in service of our dreams versus our dreams being in service to us, it becomes something greater," Spielberg said. "It allows us to be game, and it allows us to get over our fear to go forward no matter what obstacles are thrown in our path."
"No generation has been better positioned to be warriors for justice and remake the world," said Former President Barack Obama.
"If the world is going to get better, it's going to be up to you," Obama said in his "Graduate Together" speech, which was published Saturday.
"With everything suddenly feeling like it's up for grabs, this is your time to seize the initiative. Nobody can tell you anymore that you should be waiting your turn, nobody can tell you anymore that this is how it's always been done. More than ever this is your moment, your generation's world to shape," he continued.
"You've got more role models, more road maps, more resources than the civil rights generation did. You've got more tools, technology and talents than my generation did," Obama said.
He added: "No generation has been better positioned to be warriors for justice and remake the world."
Listen to Barack Obama's full speech here.
"Rejection doesn't feel like something you want to embrace, but rejection is never permanent," said Chelsea Handler.
"Embrace rejection, whether it's from a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a coworker, or a boss. Rejection doesn't feel like something you want to embrace, but rejection is never permanent," said comedian Chelsea Handler in a speech for iHeart Radio's "Commencement" podcast.
Handler continued: "Just like success is never permanent, and the sooner, you can embrace rejection, the sooner you get through it. Usually, rejection catapults us all into this ball of despair, and insecure thoughts, and this self-consciousness, and have I ever made any right decisions, and am I fake? Am I even good at my job?"
"We have to remember that when we go through those times in our lives, those are thoughts that are happening in our heads," Handler said. These thoughts are only our thoughts. No one else defines you but you."
She continued, saying: "Your perseverance and your tenacity is what people will remember. It's not that you will fall down because we know everyone falls down, and it is how you get back up, and that you continue to get back up."
"What other people think of you is never as important as what you think of yourself."
Apple CEO Tim Cook told the class of 2020 to embrace times that reveal "what really matters."
"When I joined Apple in 1998, I couldn't believe my luck. I was going to get to spend the rest of my professional life working for Steve Jobs," Cook said on an episode of iHeart Radio's "Commencement" podcast. "But fate comes like a thief in the night. The loneliness I felt when we lost Steve was proof that there is nothing more eternal, or more powerful, than the impact we have on others."
"Those of us who can look back on this time and remember inconveniences and even boredom can count themselves lucky. Many more will know real hardship and fear," he continued. "Others still will be cut to the bone. And while we turn to our loved ones and friends for comfort, think hard about those whose impact on your life is more distant, but no less meaningful."
Cook added: "Memorialize in your heart the way in which these times reveal what really matters: the health and well-being of our loved ones, the resilience of our communities, and the sacrifices made by those—from doctors to garbage collectors—who give their whole selves to serving others."
Megan Rapinoe told graduates to "leave their mark" and touched on the importance of voting.
The US professional soccer player told graduates during the virtual special "Graduate Together" to unite and "demand better together."
"For many of you this year will be the first time you've cast a ballot," Rapinoe said. "I urge you not to miss the importance of who makes the decisions in times of crisis and in times of triumph. From your local mayor to your governor, your senator, to the President of the United States. Who is leading, matters."
"I know first-hand the power of a movement led by and for the next generation. You are that next generation. Take the torch and leave your mark. Put your stake in the ground and build the future that you want and you believe in and fight like hell to do it," Rapinoe said.
Watch the full "Graduate Together" special here.
- Read more:
- 21 valuable pieces of advice from the best graduation speeches of all time
- 12 Tom Hanks quotes that will brighten your day
- Barack and Michelle Obama will host 3 virtual graduation events for the class of 2020