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Denzel Washington encourages college grads not to focus on material possessions

  • Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington was the keynote speaker at Dillard University where he delivered commencement address
  • The Training Day star shared four pieces of advice with the 218 graduates of the Class of 2015 on May 9 in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • His advice included ‘do what you feel passionate about’ and ‘don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference’

Myriah Towner For Dailymail.com

 

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Actor Denzel Washington was full of advice while delivering a commencement address to college grads on Saturday.

The Training Day star told the 2015 graduating class from historically black college, Dillard University, to ‘put God first in everything you do’ as he shared four key points during the ceremony.

Speaking to the graduates in Louisiana, the 60-year-old actor recalled the story of when he was flunking out of college and was thinking about joining the army 40 years ago.

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The Training Day star told the 2015 graduating class from Dillard University in Louisiana to 'put God first in everything you do' as he shared four key points on Saturday (above Washington delivering the commencement address on May 9)

The Training Day star told the 2015 graduating class from Dillard University in Louisiana to ‘put God first in everything you do’ as he shared four key points on Saturday (above Washington delivering the commencement address on May 9)

During his speech, the 60-year-old actor recalled the story of when he was flunking out of college 40 years ago (Washington, right, pictured with Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough)

During his speech, the 60-year-old actor recalled the story of when he was flunking out of college 40 years ago (Washington, right, pictured with Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough)

‘Let me take this moment to wholeheartedly congratulate each and everyone one of you. You graduated. You did it,’ he told the 218 graduates.

‘Number one, put God first in everything you do. Everything that you think you see in me and everything you think I’ve accomplished and everything you think I have… everything I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It’s a gift.’

The Academy Award-winning actor said: 'Take chances, professionally. Don't be afraid to fail'

The Academy Award-winning actor said: ‘Take chances, professionally. Don’t be afraid to fail’

During his speech he shared with the 218 graduates four key points of advice: 'Put God first in everything', 'fail big', 'you'll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse' and 'saying thank you in advance of what is already yours'

During his speech he shared with the 218 graduates four key points of advice: ‘Put God first in everything’, ‘fail big’, ‘you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse’ and ‘saying thank you in advance of what is already yours’

He continued by telling a story about when he was 20 years old and was flunking out of college with a 1.7 grade point average. ‘I hope none of you can relate’, he added which was met by roaring laughter from the crowd.

The Academy Award-winning actor said he was sitting at his mother’s beauty parlor at the time and a woman told him that one day he would travel the world and speak to millions of people.

Washington eventually received a bachelor’s degree in drama and journalism from Fordham University in New York, according to the Huffington Post.

‘I’ve kept God in my life and it’s kept me humbled,’ he said.

The three other key points of advice he shared included to ‘fail big’, ‘you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse’ and ‘say thank you in advance of what is already yours’, which were captured in a video posted to YouTube by one of the graduate’s loved ones.

Dillard University vice president of the senior class Joy Semien (left) receives a hug from Washington as he attends the graduation where he was a keynote speaker on May 9

Dillard University vice president of the senior class Joy Semien (left) receives a hug from Washington as he attends the graduation where he was a keynote speaker on May 9

Washington's parting words to the graduating class were 'don't just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference'

Washington’s parting words to the graduating class were ‘don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference’

‘Today is the beginning of the rest of your life and you only live once, so do what you feel passionate about,’ Washington told the graduates.

‘Take chances, professionally. Don’t be afraid to fail.’

He continued: ‘Don’t be afraid to dream big, but remember dreams without goals are just dreams and they ultimately fuel disappointment. So have dreams but have goals.

‘To achieve these goals, you must apply discipline and consistency everyday. You have to work at it.’

Before the actor left the ceremony early so he could deliver another commencement speech at Wiley College in Texas, he was given an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the university, according to Nola.com.

His parting words to the graduates were that working hard is what successful people do.

Washington said: ‘Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.’

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