Leadership

Hillary Clinton to Yale's Class of 2018: 'Be ready to lose some fights'

Hillary Clinton gave the Commencement Address at the Wellesley College 2017 166th Commencement Exercises at Wellesley College on May 26, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts
Paul Marotta | Getty Images
Hillary Clinton gave the Commencement Address at the Wellesley College 2017 166th Commencement Exercises at Wellesley College on May 26, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts

Hillary Clinton appeared before Yale University's graduating class on Sunday, and delivered a speech in which she praised students for their resilience in the face of tough times.

"If any group were ever prepared to rise to the occasion, it is you, the Class of 2018. You've already demonstrated the character and courage that will help you navigate this tumultuous moment," the 2016 Democratic nominee told Yale seniors in an inspirational, and often times political, speech. "And most of all, you've demonstrated resilience."

Clinton — a graduate of Yale Law — spoke to students as part of a weekend-long schedule of events leading up to Monday's official commencement ceremony. Throughout the speech, she lightly joked about Facebook's data breach scandal, the WikiLeaks release of her emails and Russian election meddling.

Following Yale Class Day tradition, all attendees wore hats and headgear of their choice, oftentimes lighthearted: Clinton went with a Russian-inspired hat, likely a nod to the ongoing debate over Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

"Look, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, " she joked.

Clinton continued: "We're living at a time when fundamental rights, civic virtues, freedom of the press, even facts and reason, are under assault like never before. But we are also witnessing an era of new moral conviction, civic engagement and a sense of devotion to our democracy and country."

The former U.S. Secretary of State also touched on issues Americans are still grappling with, including the mounting number of school shootings. She noted several instances in which Yale students were subject to discrimination, including a student whose father was deported and a black student who was confronted by police for sleeping on campus.

"As hard as it is, this is a moment to reach across divides of race, class and politics," Clinton said. "To try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and to return to rational debate, to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable, to try to recapture a sense of community and common humanity."

Clinton, a graduate of Yale Law School, also served as Yale's Class Day speaker in 2001 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the 2009 commencement.

Echoing a message of persistence she shared last year with the Wellesley College class of 2017, Clinton noted a lesson she learned in the months after losing the 2016 presidential election to president Donald Trump.

"Everyone gets knocked down, what matters is whether you get up and keep going," Clinton said. "This may be hard for a group of Yale soon-to-be graduates to accept, but yes, you will make mistakes in life, you will even fail, it happens to all of us no matter how qualified and capable we are. Take it from me."

Ultimately, Clinton said the graduating students "need to be ready to lose some fights," but also hold tight to the resilience they have developed.

"This is a battle hardened to hope, tempered by loss and clear-eyed about the stakes. We are standing up to policies that hurt people. We're standing up for all people being treated with dignity," Clinton said."The fact that some days it is so hard to keep at it, just makes it that much more remarkable that so many of us are in fact keeping at it."

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