From an early 2000s country sensation to a widely recognized pop icon, Taylor Swift’s career could be a course of study in itself — and this May the singer was recognized for her accomplishments with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, from New York University.
On May 18, the “All Too Well” singer addressed the NYU graduates of 2020, 2021 and 2022 (following the pandemic) at the Yankee Stadium.
In her speech, Swift got candid about her love life, embracing cringe and screwing things up in the public eye. She also joked about not having a normal college experience: “Please bear in mind that I, in no way, feel qualified to tell you what to do. You’ve worked and struggled and sacrificed and studied and dreamed your way here today and so, you know what you’re doing,” she said. “You’ll do things differently than I did them and for different reasons.”
On being cringe, she explained: “No matter how hard you try to avoid being cringe, you will look back on your life and cringe retrospectively. Cringe is unavoidable over a lifetime. Even the term ‘cringe’ might someday be deemed ‘cringe.’”
She also shared some words of wisdom on messing up, getting cancelled and recovering from it. “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,” she said. “So will I. And when I do, you will most likely read about [it] on the internet.”
You can hear Swift’s speech in full here.
In a press release prior to the event, NYU President Andrew Hamilton shared his excitement about the ceremony.
“I cannot overstate how thrilled I am to be coming together in person with graduates, parents, faculty, and honorees for NYU’s Commencement. Since 2019, we have been deprived of Commencement’s festive, communal joy, and its absence has been keenly felt,” Hamilton said.
“Few groups of graduates are more deserving of a celebration than these classes: their pursuit of their studies disrupted, isolated by a daunting pandemic, these classes — 2022, 2021, and 2020 — have distinguished themselves with their grit, grace, and forbearance. We reconvene at Yankee Stadium with a renewed sense of appreciation for the act of celebrating together in person, a recognition of our graduates’ enormous achievements, and a respect for their character and perseverance.”
Which celebrities have honorary degrees?
Swift is not the first famous person to receive an honorary degree that we’ve heard of in recent years. In 2010, for example, Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Kent. In 2008, Canadian icon Celine Dion received an honorary doctorate degree from Quebec City’s Laval University. “Dr. Yeezus” (AKA Kanye West) received an honorary doctorate degree from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015.
Swift can now add this degree to her long list of impressive titles following Grammy winner, red scarf owner and pop sensation of our generation.
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