Watch Steven Spielberg’s Harvard Commencement Speech
Hollywood came to Harvard on Thursday as Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg delivered the 365th commencement address at this year’s ceremony.
Spielberg told the graduates during his speech that he was celebrating his own college graduation not too long ago.
“It was only 14 years ago. How many of you took 37 years to graduate?” Spielberg joked. “Sophomore year, I was offered my dream job at Universal Studios, so I dropped out. I told my parents if my movie career didn’t go well, I’d re-enroll.”
Since things turned out pretty well for the decorated director, it took him a while to get back to the books. Spielberg finally earned his degree in 2002 from California State University, Long Beach.
“Most people go to college for an education, and some go for their parents, but I went for my kids,” he said. “I kept insisting on the importance of going to college, but I hadn’t walked the walk. So, in my fifties, I re-enrolled at Cal State Long Beach, and I earned my degree.”
Spielberg added, “It helped that they gave me course credit in paleontology for the work I did on Jurassic Park.”
The filmmaker went on to emphasize the importance of education as well as why people should be more aware of history.
Spielberg slid in a backhanded comment—likely directed at Donald Trump—while talking about his struggle to get his own kids to become more cognizant of their family’s past.
“Because to understand who they are is to understand who we were, and who their grandparents were, and then, what this country was like when they emigrated here,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants—at least for now.”
While Spielberg never directly addressed Trump, he touched upon a lot of the vitriolic ideas that have come to the forefront during this year’s campaign, urging the graduates to fight back against racism, Islamophobia, and attacks on the LGBT community.
The filmmaker also mentioned the Red Sox while talking about the darker side of tribalism.
“Now, I don’t have to tell a crowd of Red Sox fans that we are wired for tribalism. But beyond rooting for the home team, tribalism has a much darker side,” Spielberg said. “Instinctively and maybe even genetically, we divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ So the burning question must be: How do all of us together find the ‘we?’”
He finished his speech by wishing the graduates a “Hollywood-style happy ending” and implored them to visit their parents.
“I wish you all a true, Hollywood-style happy ending,” Spielberg said. “I hope you outrun the T. rex, catch the criminal and for your parents’ sake, maybe every now and then, just like E.T.: Go home.”
Check Spielberg’s full commencement address below.