Mark Zuckerberg returns to Harvard to address the graduating class of 2017


Who says you have to go to college to get a degree? After dropping out of Harvard University 12 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg has finally received his college degree — an honorary degree that he was awarded as part of his presentation of the commencement address to Harvard’s class of 2017.

The news was first announced through a post on Harvard’s website, however it was followed by a whimsical and completely cringe-worthy video on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page — which also starred none other than Bill Gates, who gave the commencement address at Harvard back in 2007. Incidentally, Zuckerberg attended that address — at the time, his wife Priscilla Chan was graduating.

“Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership has profoundly altered the nature of social engagement worldwide. Few inventions in modern times can rival Facebook in its far-reaching impact on how people around the globe interact with one another,” said Harvard in its post. “And few individuals can rival Mark Zuckerberg in his drive to change our world through the innovative use of technology, as well as his commitment to advance science, enhance education, and expand opportunity through the pursuit of philanthropy.”

Zuckerberg is one of a growing line of tech billionaires to drop out of college and build something huge. Bill Gates also dropped out of Harvard back in 1975, and Apple founder Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College in 1976.

But Zuckerberg has made history in his own way by becoming the youngest commencement speaker in Harvard’s 366 year history. As a millennial himself, the CEO spoke to the graduating class about purpose, noting, “I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose. We’re millennials. We’ll try to do that instinctively. Instead, I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.”

And while the entrepreneur hit upon plenty of lofty ideas, like thinking and acting big, giving everyone an equal opportunity to try new ideas, and strengthening our shared sense of community, he was also able to impart some humor.

“I’m honored to be with you today because, let’s face it, you accomplished something I never could,” Zuckerberg quipped in his opening. “If I get through this speech, it’ll be the first time I actually finish something at Harvard. Class of 2017, congratulations!”

You can watch the entirety of the speech below.

Article originally published in March 2017. Updated on 5-26-2017 by Lulu Chang: Added excerpts and video of Zuckerberg’s commencement speech.

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