Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

My 3 Messages for the Class of 2013

May 13, 2013

Yesterday, I gave the Commencement speech at Duke University, my alma mater. It's hard to express how moving it was to look out at 6,000 graduates, representing the millions of graduates around the world who are so full of promise. 

I think the theme of my message for the graduates is best summed up as “How to Connect When You’re Connected.” There are really three big ideas I hope everyone can take away and think about. 

1. See the humanity of others first. 

There is one big thing that makes all 7 billion people on the planet the same, and it’s more important than the many little things that make us different from each other. It can be hard to see our common humanity, though, because it’s so abstract. The idea of humanity will never inspire you like the actual human beings you meet. When you meet people, especially people’s whose experiences are different from yours, I think you’ll find that what separates you in not what you dream about, but your ability to make your dreams come true.

2. Technology can make your world a neighborhood. 

If you make the choice to connect to more human beings, then your computer, your phone, and the Internet make it so much easier to do. Be proud of your technological prowess. Computers are just a tool, but they’re a powerful tool that lets you communicate directly with people far away, immerse yourselves in their lives, and turn those who used to be strangers into your global neighbors.

3. Make the commitment to connect deeply.

If you use the tool of technology to connect to people who you really believe are equal to you in spirit, then you will be deeply connected. And as a deeply connected person in a deeply connected world, you will take big and small actions to touch the lives of your global neighbors. You new graduates spent years acquiring the knowledge and skills to succeed at whatever you choose to do. I hope you will do what you already had it in your heart to do—to connect deeply and make the equality of all people not just a theory but a fact of life.

I hope you're able to take a few minutes to watch and, if you agree, share it with a young person in your life. 

Best of luck for the future to all of the 2013 graduates out there. As I said yesterday, I can’t wait to see what you'll do.

 
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