Oprah Winfrey has led an array of A-list stars sharing advice and congratulations to the class of 2020, whose graduation has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Across the US, thousands of high school and university students celebrated on Friday with a virtual graduation ceremony via a Facebook livestream.
Hosted by The Office co-stars Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak, the event featured rousing messages from some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Cardi B, Matthew McConaughey and Kristen Bell.
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Class of 2020, this is not the graduation ceremony you envisioned. Even though there may not be pomp because of the circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose and vision, passion and energy, and hope. My hope is that you will harness your education, your voice, your vote and use it to create more equity, more justice, and more joy in the world. Congratulations Class of 2020! You are now the class that COMMENCED a new way forward 🎓🎓🎓
Winfrey was the final speaker, delivering a stirring speech telling students they were the perfect generation to meet the challenge posed by the crisis.
“I know you may not feel like it, but you are indeed the chosen class for such a time as this,” she said.
“Of course, this is not the graduation ceremony you envisioned. You’ve been dreaming about that walk across the stage, your family and friends cheering you on, the caps flung joyously in the air.
“But even though there may not be pomp because of our circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose, vision, passion and energy and hope.”
In her message, pop star Gomez shared what advice she would give her younger self.
She said: “When people ask me what I would tell my younger self, I always said, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ You all have worked incredibly hard to get to this point and I know it’s not exactly how you imagined your graduation to look like.
“I want to say it’s okay not to know what to do with the rest of your life. It’s a journey to find your direction or your passions, so don’t get frustrated by the mistakes and setbacks as they happen to all of us.”
Cyrus gave a moving performance of her song The Climb and said: “It feels full of a new meaning. Keep the faith, keep on moving, keep climbing, here’s The Climb.”
Rapper Cardi B delivered a typically colourful address, urging students not to allow the pandemic to ruin their graduation.
She added: “Now you’re about to start your life, you’re about to make some money!”
During a separate event, Hollywood comedian Will Ferrell appeared during a virtual ceremony for his former school, the University of Southern California.
Donning a cap and gown, Ferrell referenced the famous moment from Winfrey’s talk show when she gave each member of the audience a free car.
“Every graduate is getting a new car,” Ferrell joked. “Every graduate is getting round trip tickets for him and her and their family to the Bahamas or Tahiti, whenever it’s OK to travel again.”