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Amy Poehler’s Speech to Harvard

By 05.26.11

I find college graduations dull and unremarkable, but that’s probably because I was way more proud of my Marine Corps commission than I was my college degree. It also probably has something to do with Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky giving my commencement speech. BORRRRRRRRINGGGGGGG.

Of course, Harvard doesn’t have that problem, because it’s Harvard and the children of privilege that go there get an awesome speaker every year. This year, “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler addressed the graduates (full video below), and she gave the sort of heartwarming yet funny speech that no one in the field government (or poetry) seems to be capable of. Some highlights:

“Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people’s faces. People’s faces will tell you amazing things, like if they are angry, or nauseous, or asleep.”

On Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins: “What do I know about Harvard?…I know it’s filled with people who get rich by inventing things, and people who get rich suing the people who invented things.”

“Would it kill you to be nicer to your parents? They have sacrificed so much for you and all they want is for you to smile and take a picture with your weird cousins. Do that for them. And with less eye-rolling, please.”

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own…You’re all here today because someone gave you strength. Helped you. Held you in the palm of their hand. God, Allah, Buddha, Gaga—whomever you pray to.”

“When you feel scared, hold someone’s hand, look into their eyes. When you feel brave, do the same thing. You are here because you’re smart and brave, and if you add to that kindness and the ability to change a tire, you almost make up the perfect person.”

Pretty great, right? And now, here are some cats that look like Amy Poehler:


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