Here’s how Tim Cook and Bill Gates hope to give graduates a boost

The annual commencement speech is a chance for new graduates to pick up a few pearls of wisdom from high achievers as they enter the next chapter of their lives, but like everything else in recent months, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted such events this time around.

All is not lost, however, as iHeartMedia has persuaded a bunch of famous folks to record commencement speech podcasts for everyone to enjoy. Those taking part include Apple boss Tim Cook, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, songwriter and actor Becky G, actor and gender equality ambassador Freida Pinto, stand-up comedian George Lopez, director and actor Henry Winkler, and New York Times bestselling author John Green, among many others.

“iHeartRadio knows how important the graduation ceremony is,” the podcast and radio streaming platform said in a message on its website. “After four long years of hard work, commencement offers one last moment to reflect before you toss your hat into the air and take on the world. We know that during these difficult times, most graduates won’t get to attend their ceremony in person. So, we’ve partnered with some of the biggest names across industries, to write a commencement speech just for you.

“From 4-star generals to all-star comedians, legendary coaches to John Legend himself, these are the words we hope will inspire you.”

The podcasts, part of a special event called “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020,” will appear online on Friday, May 15, a couple of days before National Graduation Day on May 17.

You’ll be able to find them on iHeartRadio and most podcast services, with each speech also landing on iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations across the country.

Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network, said, “High school and college seniors are always in need of inspiration, reassurance, and life advice as they head into the next chapter of their lives, and that is especially true this year.

“‘Speeches for the Class Of 2020’ brings together some of the most experienced and inspiring people in the country today to celebrate the resilience, strength, and accomplishments of this year’s graduates. These are the speakers our graduates would have had at their real-world ceremonies if not for current circumstances, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring them together through this podcast.”

In similar efforts, Facebook will this week stream a cast of celebrities headlined by Oprah Winfrey for a special commencement address, while YouTube has persuaded the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to get involved in its own virtual graduation ceremony on June 6.

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