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May 15, 2020 9 mins

In this episode of Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020, business magnate and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates empower graduating seniors to embrace the mantra that progress is possible, and encourage them to accept the shared mission of propelling us all forward into a better future.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Commencement Speeches for the Class of twenty is a production
of I Heart Radio. Class of Parents, Faculty, rising graduates.
Welcome to commencement. You made it. This year is a

little different, a difficult time to graduate because the traditional
graduation day has been put on hold. So we're bringing
it to you wherever you are because this is still
your day, your moment, and now put your hands together.
It's time to be inspired. This year's commencement speaker Bill
and Melinda Gates, Congratulations to the class of your graduation.

We know you aren't able to celebrate this milestone in
the way you had a mad and but we hope
you and your loved ones are still finding a way
to make this occasion special. These are not easy times,
but we will get through them, and with your leadership,
the world will be stronger than it was before. Your
generation understands the inextricable ties between the people of the world,

perhaps better than any that has come before it. Many
of you have been using the Internet since you could read.
You've grown up with access to pop culture, news and
perspectives from society's thousands of miles from your home, and
the major challenges looming over your future like climate change
and growing inequality are also being confronted by your peers

in every part of the globe. We know that a
lot of you are seeking advice right now on how
to navigate life after graduation, and we've also noticed that
a lot of the same questions seem to come up
again and again. So instead of a traditional commencement address
where we tell you what we think you want to hear,
we want to swer your questions instead. The first question is,

when we've seen a lot, are there any historical events
that could provide insight for surviving and maybe even thriving
in the global moment we're in. Once we get to
the end of this pandemic, I think we'll enter a
period of rebuilding very similar to what it was like
after World War Two. In addition to getting the economy

going again, we're gonna have to create new structures to
prevent this crisis from ever happening again, and that will
create opportunities for smart young people to shape those structures.
I encourage you to get involved as much as you can. Yeah,
I agree, Bill, This pandemic is a defining moment in
our history. Today's graduate you're going to play a huge

role in how it defines us. As we start to recover,
you will be at the forefront of answering big questions
like will society become more or less equal? Will the
world become more united or more divid I did, will
we make the changes we need so no one is
left behind? Just like World War two and other emergencies,
we can come together and rebuild stronger, and young people

can lead the way. Another question that we received from
a lot of graduates was about how to succeed in
the job market. It may not be surprising coming for me,
but I think, uh, data sciences, encoding are are more
and more important skills. Being able to understand what programs
can do, you know, looking at databases, and how to

navigate drawing sites. Out of those, I think those skills
will apply to a lot of the jobs in the future.
So I have a computer science graduate and I still
use my coding mindset every day. And I would say
that the other thing is how important it is to
learn to understand the people you work with. There's an
idea that the world makes progress when one person has

a Eureka moment, but that's not really how it works.
If you want to get things done. You need a team,
and teams succeed when everybody is focused on getting the
best out of one another. We were inspired to see
that many of you want to make a difference right now.
How can new graduates helping the fight against COVID So

many of you are already helping by staying home when
you can, by dropping off groceries to your elderly neighbors,
by helping young students keep learning. We've been incredibly inspired
by the creative ways you've risen to this moment, and
we're going to need that ingenuity on a host of
urgent issues as we work to recover, not just the

obvious ones like how we reopen the economy, but also
the less obvious ones, like how we modernize caregiving so
parents don't have to choose between getting a paycheck or
taking care of a sick child. Some of you may
have been inspired by this crisis to pursue careers in
epidemiology or health. That's fantastic, but it's not the only

way to contribute. Policymakers are going to have a lot
of decisions to make in the months and years to
come about how we recover from this crisis and how
we prevent it from ever happening again. You can use
your voice and your vote to insist on policies that
create a healthier, better future for everyone everywhere. The next

question asks, how do I know if I chose the
right career path? Well, the important thing to remember about
career paths is that they don't have to last forever.
When I was in my twenties, I thought I'd always
work in software. I never saw myself working in philanthropy
or on global health at all, let alone leaving behind

my job at Microsoft to do it full time. As
you get older, your interests and your skills will evolve.
My advice is to be open to change. Don't be
afraid to try something new. Yeah, I agree, Bill. Changing
careers doesn't have to be about falling behind. It should
be about building on what you already know. You know.
The good news is that many of the skills you

learn in your career can be transferred across sectors, skills
like how to communicate, persuade, and work with teams. The
other thing I would say is to talk to the
experts in the field you want to move to and
learn from them. They've got so much knowledge you can
tap into and use to prepare. Okay, so our last
question is about the future. What reasons do you think

graduates have to be optimistic about the future? Bill Well,
the arc of history is of incredible improvement and how
long we live our understanding of health advances and science,
and although it's tough to see now, that progress will
continue and will make the world a much better place.

During this pandemic, we've seen a lot of suffering, but
we've also seen humanity at its best. Brilliant minds from
around the world have mobilized to respond. Researchers have been
working seven to develop treatments and vaccines, creative thinkers in
every field of figuring out how to keep us safe
while still providing the essential services people need to live.

Those innovators are showing us what's possible. You know, their
skills and knowledge are going to help defeat COVID nineteen
and then I'm really eager to see them and all
of you, as graduates, apply those skills to other challenges
in the world. Despite reaching this wonderful milestone of graduation,

we know that this may be a difficult time to
feel optimistic about the future for many of you. The
path you imagined after graduation may suddenly be much steeper.
With so much to worry about, from your health to
your family to what the job market means for your
ability to pay off your loans, it is understandable that

you may need to put on hold the bigger questions
about your role in improving the world. There is no question, though,
that you do have a role to play, whether that's
now or in the future. You inherit a world that
already has proven that progress is possible. That progress didn't
happen by accident or fate. It was the result of

people just like you who made a commitment that, whatever
else they did with their lives and careers, they would
contribute to this shared mission of propelling us all forward.
You can build a healthier, more equal future for us all.
We can't wait to see what your generation accomplishes. Congratulations graduates.

You can find reflection of incredible commitment addresses from all
your favorite speakers at the Commitment Podcast on I Heart
Radio or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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