I have now seen three college commencement speeches in my life, all on YouTube. Those speeches were by Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama and then today I watch Salman Khan’s speech at Rice University to the 2012 graduates.  Like any other commencement speech Khan had some general life advice for the college graduate’s futures. However, I found Khan’s speech to be greater than most of the average commencement speeches, as it seemed more personal advice to the graduates. I found this advice to be good advice to not just graduates, but ALL college students, and to all humans in general.

Increase Positivity  

Khan spoke of validating and empowering others.  A lot of people speak of doing random acts of kindness to strangers and to the people whom you are close with. Khan takes this idea one step further by saying, when you see someone do a random act of kindness, react to it. Tell the kind person that you appreciate what they did, and that will make them feel good for being good. This in turn creates a sort of chain reaction, causing that person to do more nice things, and others around them will also want to be nice and have that same recognition.

Be a Life Long Learner

Khan stresses that we should all enjoy learning, no matter what our age or state, and just always continue learning. The end of this term is here, or approaching for some of you, and that means you either get a long summer break or that you’re done with college forever. However, this does not mean we should stop learning.  Learning is great. Why would we not continue?  Even though school has ended we can all keep learning in many ways, like by reading, or watch Khan Academy videos. And now that we are not in school, learning will be a lot less stressful without tests and homework.

Put Life in Perspectives of the Universe

Life is tough, we  are always going to have setbacks and small stresses. Khan reminds us during his commencement speech to keep in mind who you are. Humans are a small blemish of history on a tiny planet in a ginormous universe. Is your broken phone really that big of a stress? Probably not. It sucks, but you’ll live.


I recommend watching Khan’s speech here, in order to gain a better sense of some of these ideas he shares.

Next week, we’ll discuss what humans can learn from Andy Samberg’s speech at Harvard.