*If you think the ever confident Sean “Diddy” Combs looks pleased with himself in the photo above, its because he is.
After weeks of controversy surrounding Howard University’s decision to bring the successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and music industry mogul on as commencement speaker at the upcoming graduation, and numerous students chanting against the decision but finally backing down – the event, speech included, turned out to be a success.
Combs delivered the commencement speech at Howard University’s 146th commencement exercises on May 10, 2014 in Washington, D.C. which also honored CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Chairman and CEO of PespiCo Indra K. Nooyi, professor of surgery Dr. Clive Callender, and jazz legend Benny Golson.
Attendees of the commencement ceremony anxiously awaited the speaker, known as one of the entertainment industry’s most notable figures, Sean “Diddy” Combs.
The controversy actually centered on the fact that Howard U decided to award Diddy with an honorary doctorate of humanities, even though he had left the university in his junior year after being offered an internship at a record label.
The media mogul took the stage to address more than a thousand graduates, even those who disagreed with Howard choosing him as the commencement speaker.
“There were some graduates who thought him receiving an honorary degree when they earned theirs is contradictory to what they went through,” said Cameron Terry, a junior business management major. “But if you had the same opportunity you would do the same thing.”
In his speech to graduates, Diddy acknowledged the reason for the controversy, and said it was a risk that Howard staff encouraged him to take.
But the fact that Diddy never finished his degree remains; and sparked mixed reactions from the Howard University community when he was confirmed as speaker. Some objected to promoting him as a role model due to a controversial past both in his professional and personal life, though others had their own personal reasons for welcoming him.
“I thought it was cool because he’s an unconventional speaker,” said graduate Marian Taylor. “I think it really fits our class because we grew up listening to his music and he has made it.”
And Keiana Allen, the cousin of a graduate, felt the best advice he could give to the students is to keep pushing.
“He needs to let them know this isn’t the end, this is only the beginning,” she said. “You have your degree, but so does everyone else. You have to do what you have to do to stand out.”
Before thanking the crowd and leading the traditional school call, Diddy gave one last parting message to the class of 2014:
“I can’t wait to live in the world that you all are about to create. You are the most powerful generation this world has ever seen.”
Watch the full commencement speech by Sean “Diddy” Combs below.