This year’s graduates may not have had the traditional ceremony where they walk up to the stage wearing a cap and gown to receive their diplomas, but celebrities made sure to make them feel special and inspired amid the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests. As part of YouTube’s original Dear Class of 2020, stars came virtually together to send graduates words of hope and encouragement. Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Obama, Justin Timberlake, and dozens of other artists, musicians, actors and public figures shared special messages to all those graduating this year. Lizzo kicked off the special by playing a jazzy and upbeat iteration of Pomp and Circumstance along with New York’s Philharmonic Orchestra.
With her most soothing and tranquil voice, Alicia Keys was the first to speak to graduates. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the inspiration – for inspiring the world to see our collective humanity,” she said. “I hope that you can laugh, smile, allow yourself the time to reflect on all your accomplishments, on all that is coming.”
“Got fired? Learning experience. Get your heart broken? Learning experience,” stated JLo in her commencement speech, making it about how obstacles are a chance to learn and grow. “Graduating during a global crisis? Ok, that’s more than a learning experience. That’s a growing experience,” she added. ”You’re learning the most important lesson of all: Every obstacle is an opportunity to grow, to change.”
Queen Bey also took a moment to address the graduating class of 2020 by praising and thanking them “for using your collective voice and letting the world know that Black Lives Matter.” The superstar continued, “We’ve seen that our collective hearts when put to positive action could start the wheels of change. Real change has started with you, this new generation of high school and college graduates who we celebrate today.”
Barack and Michelle Obama each gave a separate speech, but they also came together for a joint address. “We want you to know that all the work you’ve put in to get your education is still one of the best investments you could make. We’ve seen it for decades,” said the former POTUS. “Go ahead and do a little dance – a cool dance,” added his wife Michelle.
Lady Gaga was another who joined the list of A-listers in congratulating students for their achievements while encouraging them to take action. The Chromatica artist used nature as an analogy to explain systemic racism and compared it to “a broad forest filled densely with tall trees.”
“This forest is where we live. But in this moment, all of us are being invited to challenge that system and think about how to affect real change... it‘s you who are the seeds of the future,” she pointed. “You are the seeds that will grow into a new and different forest that is far more beautiful and loving than the one we live in today.“
Mom-to-be Katy Perry dressed her baby bump in a single-sleeve white dress and made the ceremony official by leading graduates into moving their tassels from left to right. “The time has come! Lets turn those tassels and make it kind of official. Whether you’ve got a real cap and a tassel or an iPhone charger taped to a pizza box, this is the moment for everyone around the globe to graduate at once. No matter where you are, remember: The tassel goes from right to left,” she assured.
Katy then broke into a song by performing her new hit Daisies and her 2010 classic Firework.
BTS joined the party and also had a message of hope for the graduates. The K-Pop group—which consists of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V: The Series and Jung Kook kicked off their speech with RM saying, “Dear class of 2020, it‘s been a strange year so far but you made it. Today we might not have flowers, we might not have graduation caps, but what we do have is possibly the most special graduation ceremony in history.”
Camila Cabello, Maluma and the Schitt’s Creek cast featuring Mariah Carey also took part. Head over to YouTube to watch the complete star-studded Dear Class of 2020.