On Wednesday morning, Swift, 32, delivered her first-ever commencement speech and received a Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, from NYU. The commencement ceremony took place at Yankee Stadium in a “doubleheader” event that honored the Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022. After she received her accolade, she stepped up to the podium to deliver a 20-minute speech where she gave the audience personal anecdotes, imparted wisdom from her career and assured them that making mistakes is inevitable.
“Last time I was in a stadium this size, I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard. This outfit is much more comfortable,” Swift began, later referencing her hit 1989 song. “To all the parents, family members, mentors, teachers, allies, friends and loved ones here today who have supported these students … let me say to you now: Welcome to New York. It’s been waiting for you.” Acknowledging she never had a “normal college experience,” Swift shared some of her best “life hacks” and later explained why she no longer believes in giving “advice.”
“Life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once. Part of growing up and moving into new chapters of your life is about catch and release,” she said. “Secondly, learn to live alongside cringe … I had a phase where, for the entirely of 2012, I dressed like a 1950s housewife. But you know what? I was having fun.”
“You will screw it up sometimes. So, will I. And when I do, you will most likely read about it on the internet,” she quipped. “Hard things will happen to us. We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it.”
The superstar also reflected on her rise to stardom, recalling the “thinly veiled warnings” she received from “older members” of the music industry and media.
“I became a young adult while being fed the message that if I didn’t make any mistakes, all the children of America would grow up to be perfect angels,” she said. “However, if I did slip up, the entire earth would fall off its axis and it would be entirely my fault and I would go to pop star jail forever and ever.” The Grammy winner’s “get ready with me” TikTok video ahead of the ceremony opened with a barefaced Swift riding in the back of a car before it quickly panned to her in a black mini dress with makeup (red lipstick, of course) and hair done — and sliding on her cheetah-print pump heels.
Ultimately, Swift advised the graduates to follow their “gut instincts” even in the face of fear.
She then concluded her speech in true Swift fashion: “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 2022.”
The “Blank Space” singer then zipped up her purple NYU gown and adjusted the cap on her head. She then posed in front of a graduation banner — and a large bird cage filled with books, a camera and a Grammy award — as her dad took pictures of her ready to go.