egendary music artist Taylor Swift received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, honoris causa, degree at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York.
She received this honor beside leading Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann. Both Swift and Huemann will address a supersized audience of the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 due to previous COVID restrictions. Other Honorary Degree Recipients include MIT Professor of Neuroscience, Susan Hockfield, Chancellor of the City University of New York, Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Lonnie G. Bunch III, and Harvard professor, Jill Lepore.
The superstar was introduced first by Jason King, Chair and Associate Professor at NYU, as “a blazing singer-songwriter, producer, director, actress, pioneering and influential advocate for artist's rights”.
The 32-year-old singer-songwriter is an 11-time Grammy Winner, recently winning Album of the Year for her 2020 album Folklore She is the only female artist to receive the Grammy Award for Album of the Year 3 times. Swift is known for smash hits like, “You Belong With Me”, “Blank Space”, and “22” among others.
Swift started off her speech by thanking the Chairman, trustees, and the President of NYU. Then, the self-aware singer joked, “I'm 90% sure I was invited because I have a song called "22".
This is Swift’s first honorary college degree. Swift herself didn't attend college. After graduating high school at 17 a year early, she continued her journey of being a teenage country-pop star. Swift brings this up in her speech, stating that she never “got to have the normal college experience, per se. I went to public high school until tenth grade and finished my education doing homeschool work on the floors of airport terminals”.
Swift urged the class of 2022 to recognize that there is no such thing as perfect and that as humans we are prone to make mistakes, especially at a young age.
“I became a young adult while being fed the message that if I didn’t make any mistakes, that all the children of America would grow up perfect angels. However, if I did slip up, the entire Earth would fall off its axis, and it’d be entirely my fault. ... It was all centered around the idea that mistakes equal failure and ultimately the loss of any chance at a happy or rewarding life. This has not been my experience.” Swift says.
“My experience has been that my mistakes led to the best things in my life. And being embarrassed when you mess up is part of the human experience. Getting back up, dusting yourself off and seeing who still wants to hang out with you afterward and laugh about it? That’s a gift.”
Swift ends her speech by congratulating the graduates and assuring them. “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 on the internet. Anyway…hard things will happen to us.”
Swift continues telling the class of 2022 that “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. And I’m 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.”
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