Harvard welcomed two big names to campus Wednesday for the first part of its graduation ceremony, Class Day. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg addressed the undergraduates, while comedian Mindy Kaling offered wise words to the law school graduates.
Each individual school at Harvard schedules its own Class Day speaker. Another speaker — this year it’s former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — addresses the entire university during the official commencement ceremony, which takes place today.
The creator and star of The Mindy Project offered an explanation for those who may have been confused as to why a comedian was asked to speak at a serious event: “I know a ton about the law because I sue everybody.”
She went on to predict a bright future for many of the Harvard Law grads:
“With this degree in hand, most of you will go on to the noblest pursuits, like helping a cable company acquire a telecom company. You will defend BP from birds. You will spend hours arguing that the well water was contaminated well before the fracking occurred. One of you will sort out the details of my prenup. A dozen of you will help me with my acrimonious divorce. And one of you will fall in love in the process. I’m talking to you, Noah Feldman.” (Feldman is a professor at Harvard Law.)
The Facebook COO indirectly referenced her book Lean In during her speech, saying “women around the world connected with it. That book, of course, was called Fifty Shades of Grey.” More seriously, Sandberg talked about the importance of honesty:
“I want to put some pressure on you to acknowledge the hard truths, not shy away from them and when you see them to address them. The first time that I spoke out about what it was like to be a woman in the workforce was less than five years ago. That means for 18 years from where you sit to where I stand, my silence implied that everything was okay. You can do better than I did.”
But she didn’t hesitate to conclude with a zinger: “Tomorrow, you get something that Mark Zuckerberg does not have: a Harvard degree.” (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard.)