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4 Lessons to Learn From Jodie Foster’s Commencement Speech at Penn

We are always looking forward to a fantastic future. We hope the best things come our way. We plan for it and we do the best to follow the plan and expect the outcome of our actions as expected. However in real life, the outcome may be the same as expected, better than that or it can be worst too. Does that mean we shouldn’t plan? Does that mean we cannot follow our dreams?

These and many more similar thoughts often take over our mind at various stages.

One such stage is getting your graduation degree. On one hand it is an achievement, a remarkable achievement; and on other hand it starts our professional career too. It is the time when the first phase of our life, the learning phase, is over. And the second and important phase, where earning is also important is about to start. While studying, we live almost a carefree life; where actually our elders care for us. We don’t have to worry about how our expenses are covered, how the things would be managed and all. We simply needed to focus more on learning. So, when this phase is over, it is our turn to start taking the responsibilities and use our skills for the betterment. Betterment of ourselves, our family, our friends, and our society.

To make this transformation a bit easier and guided, the Universities request remarkable achievers to deliver convocation speech at their commencement ceremony.

University of Pennsylvania is one such remarkable university. It is recognised all around the world for the quality education it provides. Popularly known as Penn – University of Pennsylvania – have invited the famous actor Jodie Foster to deliver commencement speech for 2006 convocation ceremony.

Commencement Speech Video:

It is great to see this entire commencement speech is uploaded by the University on the public domain.

1. Experience is the best teacher.

Well, she haven’t uttered it literally.

However during the first phase of the speech when she was talking about how students are feeling on this day, she utter these lines:

You pick up bits and pieces of treasure and trash, pain and pleasure, passions and disappointments and you start stuffing them in your bag…your big bag of experience.

She was talking in the context of what the graduates have experienced so far, inside and outside of the University. The educational institutions nurture your academic skills, and open the world of opportunities for you. They help you in possible best way to make you excellent at your chosen stream. The life is however much more than that. And your experiences make (or even break) you. So, when getting ready to face the next segment of life; you need to re-collect the memories of those experience which can guide you in the time coming.

2. Be decisive.

Is your future bright? Its up to you, what you make of your life.

Is your future bright? Its up to you, what you make of your life.

Your life is your privilege and your responsibility both. Remember the famous quote from Harry Potter books where Professor Dumbledore says: It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. And your education, knowledge and experiences come to help you when it is the time to make an important decision.

Also there are many people including our friends and family, teachers and well wishers; have done a lot for us, and our better future; remember these experiences gives us assurance that whether there are good times or bad; someone is there for us. It gives us reason to cheer when we achieve something, and a sense of support when things doesn’t go our way.

3. Make right choices.

How you use your resources is up to you.

How you use your resources is up to you.

Learning from our experiences is natural; however education and true knowledge lets us making able to learn from other’s experiences as well. It is very important. When we make a right move and achieve something great, we make the people associated with us proud. At the same time, when we go wrong, it affects them as well.

4. Be Yourself.

Do not waste your time becoming someone else.

Do not waste your time becoming someone else.

We need to find out the way we can perform the things properly. Only we know our abilities and limitations at full potential. And you can connect dots by looking backwards only (remember what Steve Jobs said?). May be your way of life is different than mine, and that is perfectly fine. You have to do the things in the (rightful) way you can do better.

The final Segment:

She ends up her speech with these lines…

From Eminem:

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment,
You own it. You better never let it go.
One shot! Do not miss your chance to blow.
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.


We found this speech motivating yet realistic. Jodie shared some of her experiences during the speech making her point backed with real life experience.

Remember, this is not word to word transcription of her commencement speech, but our own vision and views for the same. Do let us know what else you find from the same via comments below. We will be happy to learn. And yes, do not forget to share this article with your loved ones if you found it helpful and inspirational.

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