On Wednesday (May 18), Taylor Swift received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from New York University at the school’s commencement at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, in a “doubleheader” event that honored the Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The NYU press release announcing Swift’s honorary doctorate praised her many accolades, stating,
“Miss Swift is one of the most prolific and celebrated artists of her generation. She is the only female artist in history to win the music industry’s highest honor, the Grammy Award for Album of the Year (AOTY), three times,”
“She is the only solo artist of this century to have three albums reach No. 1 in one year,” the release said.
Although Swift has no official affiliation with NYU, the institution is quite fond of her, offering students at its Clive Davis Institute a spring-semester course inspired by her influential career and legacy.
This marks the first degree of higher education for Swift, whose singing career took off after she signed her first record deal with Big Machine Records at age 16.
Swift has long dreamed of receiving an honorary doctorate degree. In a Vogue 73 Questions interview uploaded to YouTube in 2016, she was asked to name a goal she’s determined to achieve during her life.
“I really want an honorary doctorate degree, because Ed Sheeran has one, and I feel like he looks down on me now ’cause I don’t have one”.
During her speech, Swift poked fun at herself, saying, “I’d like to thank NYU for making me technically, on paper at least, a doctor. Not the type of doctor you would want around in the case of an emergency, unless your specific emergency was that you desperately needed to hear a song with a catchy hook and an intensely cathartic bridge section.”
Swift continued her speech giving her audience “life hacks,” acknowledging that hacks are different from giving “unsolicited advice.” Some of Swift’s suggestions included having a “catch and release” state of mind, embracing the idea of “cringe,” and to “never be ashamed of trying.”
“I know it can be really overwhelming figuring out who to be, and when. Who you are now and how to act in order to get where you want to go.”
I have some good news: it’s totally up to you. I also have some terrifying news: it’s totally up to you,” the singer said.
Swift concluded her speech by telling the graduates that making mistakes is inevitable — but she said that “when hard things happen to us, we will recover, we will learn from it, we will grow more resilient because of it.”