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Sterling K. Brown Tells Stanford Graduates to Let Their ‘Light Shine’

Brown says: ‘Take your light and show us the way’

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Sterling K. Brown, Emmy award winning actor and Stanford alum, told the Stanford class of 2018 to let their “light shine” by pursuing their calling while not comparing themselves to others.

“Don’t worry about anybody else’s light. Don’t try to compare yours to anyone else’s. If you have found that thing, that purpose in life that gives you access to maximum enthusiasm, trust that,” Brown said. “I’m not talking about a job, I’m not even talking about a career. I’m talking about a calling — that thing that forces the metaphorical lampshade from your soul and mandates that everyone wear sunglasses in your presence because you just that damn bright.”

In his uplifting and high-energy speech, Brown emphasized the importance of staying true to oneself and not to worry about others’ are doing, using his speech as an example, “Then I take a breath, and I remember my speech doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s,” Brown said, “My speech is my speech, and they can’t do what I can do, and I can’t do what they can do. So why am I even trying?”

Brown attended Stanford with the plan to major in economics and go into business, but later found his passion for acting with encouragement from Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and former drama professor Harry Elam, and majored in drama.

Elam told The Stanford Daily earlier this year, “Students will choose majors not because they love a subject, but because that’s what they’re supposed to do or that’s what will get them a job. [Brown is] an example of choosing a major differently — [pursuing] something that you believe in, something that you want to work at and are committed to.”

Brown made his film and television debuts in 2002, four years after graduating from Stanford, with appearances in the movie, “Brown Sugar”, and the television series, “Third Watch.” He later had main roles in the TV series, “Army Wives”, and the hit movie, “Black Panther”, and received an Emmy award for his role as Randall Pearson on “This is Us.”

“Class of 2018, it is your time now,” Brown finished. “Take your light and show us the way.”

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Gigi Foster is a student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She's a midfielder on the women's soccer team and is studying ocean sciences.

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