On May 25, Mark Zuckerberg gave the commencement speech at Harvard University, shortly after having received an honorary doctorate.
Zuckerberg decided to drop out of Harvard 12 years ago while still in his Junior year. He instead decided to pursue the development of his multi-billion-dollar company Facebook. When opening his commencement speech, he remarked that this would be the first time he finished anything that he started at the University.
He would later post a snapshot of himself with his parents on Facebook while holding the diploma, with the comment: “Mom, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.”
A Global sense of purpose
The 33-year-old billionaire spent much of the speech remarking on the mission of social connection that is the bedrock upon which he based the creation of Facebook. Zuckerberg encouraged the graduating students to think further than what their individual purpose in life is. He encouraged them to be the generation that would facilitate a global sense of purpose, working towards enabling others to be able to find purpose.
Zuckerberg cited the experience he had while teaching an entrepreneurship program at a Boys and Girls Club. He described how the young people felt held back by bureaucratic restrictions connected to their race and their parents. Zuckerberg kept these young people in his life and explained how he since has watched them flourish. He expressed to the graduating class how this should become a global effort to enable all people equal opportunity.
Additionally, he challenged the students to focus on issues such as universal healthcare, universal basic income, affordable childcare and even online voting.
Harvard, the birthplace of Facebook
Zuckerberg initially created Facebook in his dorm room during his Junior year at Harvard. At the time he gained the reputation during his computer science classes of being a “programming prodigy.” He utilized these talents to create CourseMatch, which was useful to bring together study groups. Later, his teenage hormones led him to create Facemash. This allowed fellow students to select who they felt was the best-looking person.
Eventually, he decided to make a computerized version of the Face Books that students used in the dorms. This actual books listed who everyone living in them was, and what they looked like. Harvard initially met this with disdain, and immediately shut it down when it overwhelmed the college’s internet connection. Harvard forced Zuckerberg to make a public apology.
Seeds of success
However, in Zuckerberg’s imagination, the seeds of Facebook were sewn. Nevertheless, his creation of what was first called “Thefacebook” incited anger. Fellow students accused him of stealing their idea. They went on to settle out of court following the threatened legal action. Zuckerberg then decided to drop out of college and focus on the creation of Facebook.
Twelve years later Zuckerberg is the 6th richest man in the world. His leap of faith deciding to leave college paid dividends. And now he can say the story has taken a full circle, with Harvard finally acknowledging his shining success with this honorary doctorate.