Mindy Kaling Commencement

Mindy Kaling infused humor and inspiration into her commencement speech.
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Harvard class of 2014 had two big names address the new graduates – Sheryl Sandberg and Mindy Kaling. Kaling may not seem like an obvious choice to address college graduates, but unlike her character on The Office, Kaling is actually very intelligent and attended an Ivy League school herself – Dartmouth College. Kaling returned to her hometown of Cambridge, Mass, and delivered a speech that was both inspirational and funny.

Using her degree in play-writing, Kaling was a writer on all 9 seasons of The Office, and is now the creator, star, and a writer for The Mindy Project.

She started off the 17-minute speech “bragging” about her glamorous life and addressing the question of why she was really there:

“I know what you’re probably thinking: Mindy Kaling, why did they ask her? She’s just a pretty Hollywood starlet. What does that quadruple threat know about the law? Sure, she seems really down to earth and pretty in a totally accessible way. And, yeah, she was on People magazine’s Most Beautiful People list this year — and also in 2008 — but what intelligent remarks could she possibly make about the law? She’s probably too busy doing shampoo commercials.”

Kaling blended real-world advice and humor into her speech, saying, “I know a ton about the law because I sue everybody…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.)

Other notable quotes include:

On Harvard Law’s history: “Harvard Law has an incredible number of illustrious alumni. President Barack Obama attended Harvard Law, or so he says. Elle Woods went here, from the trenchant documentary ‘Legally Blonde.’”

On giving advice: “People are going to listen to what you say now, whether you’re good or evil … Some of you are evil. That’s just the odds.”

On Hollywood: “Celebrities give too much advice, and people listen to it too much. In Hollywood, we all think we’re these wise advice givers, and most of us have no education whatsoever.”

Of course the speech had some great real-world message as well. She talked about her parents’ immigration to the United States, and tells the graduates that, “you represent those who will change laws and effect change – and that is truly an amazing thing. And more than any of the others graduating this week from Harvard, what you decide to do with the net five to ten years of your life will affect the rights of people in this country in a fundamental way.”

Check out her entire speech below: