Tom Hanks and Anthony Fauci Offer 2020 Graduates Advice: 'Make it a Great One' — 'Now is the Time ... to Care Selflessly About One Another'

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House's coronavirus task force, made a surprise appearance at the virtual graduation ceremony for the College of the Holy Cross, where he is an alumnus. (Youtube screenshot/KQED)

In separate online graduation addresses this week, Tom Hanks and Dr. Anthony Fauci offered advice to class of 2020 graduates.

A virtual graduation ceremony held Friday afternoon for the class of 2020 at Skyline High School in Oakland featured a video message from Oscar-winning actor and 1974 Titan alumnus Tom Hanks.

The Skyline graduation was the first of the year for Oakland Unified School District, which has been holding classes remotely since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus health emergency.

Hanks, who has spoken in the past at graduation ceremonies at Skyline, opens the video gesturing to the room in his home and facetiously welcoming the class to the school's athletic field where commencement is normally held.

"Somewhere, out of the fate of every high schooler, you guys were picked to graduate this year, in the year 2020, to start this next chapter of your lives in the face and in the midst of so much change," he says in his opening remarks.


In April, Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, contracted COVID-19 and then recovered. The actor said Skyline "provided me with a direction and instinct to follow" and trusted that the school had done the same for the current class.

"Follow those instincts and understand that you have been chosen by fate to lead the way in whatever is going to be — make it a great one, would you," Hanks said, before giving shoutouts to senior class officers and offering encouragement.

"You didn't give up, you have been the best example for the rest of us to keep going," he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, key member of the White House's coronavirus task force mobilized was also on the graduation circuit with surprise graduation messages this week. Fauci addressed both Johns Hopkins University and his own alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross.

"I am profoundly aware that graduating during this time and in this virtual way — unable to celebrate in person this important milestone in your lives with your friends, classmates and teachers — is extremely difficult. I deeply empathize with the situation in which you find yourselves," said the former classics major, in his message to Holy Cross students on Friday.

"However, I encourage you to stay strong and unflinching. The country and the world need your talent, your energy, your resolve and your character."

Just one day earlier, Fauci dropped in for a remote address to Johns Hopkins.

"All of you, directly or indirectly," he told students, "will be doing your part together with the rest of us to come out from under the shadow of this pandemic."

A few months ago, the 79-year-old immunologist may have made for an unlikely celebrity guest at college commencement ceremonies. But Fauci's prominent role at President Trump's frequent coronavirus briefings has turned him into one of the most recognizable doctors in the country — the subject of tribute songs, posters and even his own fan club.

In his comments to new graduates at both schools, he emphasized that the global pandemic presents not only dangers but also opportunities to use the education and "moral mentorship" they had worked so hard to obtain in the classroom.

"Now is the time, if ever there was one," he told Holy Cross, "for us to care selflessly about one another."

Additional reporting from Bay City News 

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