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Wednesday 29 June |
The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
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Denzel Washington tells graduates, “Put God first”

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/11/15

When was the last time you heard an Academy Award-winning actor or actress deliver that message in a commencement speech?

Details: 

Actor Denzel Washington gave graduates of Dillard University four pillars of advice on Saturday during his commencement address. Washington’s speech had heavy religious overtones, and was well-received among those in attendance at the historically black university in New Orleans. He broke his speech into four takeaways:
  1. Put God first: “Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It’s a gift. … I didn’t always stick with Him, but He stuck with me.”
  2. Fail big: “Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big, but remember, dreams without goals, are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment. … I try to give myself a goal every day, sometimes it’s just not to curse somebody out.”
  3. You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse: “I don’t care how much money you make, you can’t take it with you. … It’s not how much you have, it’s what you do with it.”
  4. While you’re on your knees in the morning, say thank you: “Say thank you in advance for what is already yours. … True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand that it’s already yours. … When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up. Each one, teach one. Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”
Washington admitted some of his own imperfections as he doled out the advice, telling graduates that 40 years ago he was flunking out of college, with a 1.7 GPA. “I hope none of you can relate,” he joked. Washington ultimately earned a bachelor’s in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University in New York.

You can watch the speech below.

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