May 28, 2019

Bill Nye gives keynote at 2019 Commencement

Bill Nye spoke at Goucher College’s 128th Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 24.

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    Bill Nye at Goucher College's 128th Commencement on May 24, 2019.

The crowd went wild as the keynote speaker for Goucher College’s 128th Commencement ceremony approached the lectern on Friday, May 24.

“Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” they cheered.

“We love that song!” joked Bill Nye, engineer, science educator, and television host. Nye, whose mother graduated from Goucher, previously spoke at Goucher’s Commencement in 1999, when he also received an honorary doctorate from the college.

Nye talked about his mother’s time at Goucher during World War II; once she graduated in 1942, she became a codebreaker with several other Goucher women. He drew a connection between that frightening world and the world graduates are entering today. Nye said young people will have to make big changes to the way we all live.

He spoke powerfully about climate change and said, "If you could, in Harry-Potter-magic-wand-ical fashion," do one thing to address it, it should be raising the standard of living for women and girls. He said three things must be done to make that happen: there must be clean water, renewable energy, and internet access for every person in the world.

Nye also got plenty of laughs with his more general advice. “It’s good to read the label on a can of paint,” he said, adding a beat, “before you drink it.”

The overarching message to the new graduates was that they must find ways to change the world for the better, and they shouldn’t be afraid to do so. “As we say in the theater, and on television,” Nye said, “take that fear and turn it into excitement.”

“Change is what you have to have in order to adapt,” he said at the end of his speech. “And that’s what you all are going to do as you go out to, dare I say it, change the world.”

Watch his entire speech.