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Taylor Swift Receives Honorary Doctorate From New York University

19 May 2022 | 11:03 am | Staff Writer

"I'm a big advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm for things," Swift said. "Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth."

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Taylor Swift received an honorary doctorate from New York University in fine arts on Wednesday, May 18. The multi-award-winning singer-songwriter got the degree while giving the commencement address for NYU's class of 2022 at Yankee Stadium. 

Delivering a 20-minute speech from the podium, Swift gave the audience personal anecdotes, imparted wisdom from her career and assured them that making mistakes is inevitable.

"Last time I was in a stadium this size, I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard. This outfit is much more comfortable," Swift began. "Life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once. Part of growing up and moving into new chapters of your life is about catch and release," she said. "Secondly, learn to live alongside cringe... I had a phase where, for the entirely of 2012, I dressed like a 1950s housewife. But you know what? I was having fun."

I became a young adult while being fed the message that if I didn't make any mistakes, all the children of America would grow up to be perfect angels. However, if I did slip up, the entire earth would fall off its axis and it would be entirely my fault and I would go to pop star jail forever and ever… You will screw it up sometimes. So will I. And when I do, you will most likely read about it on the internet. Hard things will happen to us. We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it."

She also thanked her family and her friends for achieving the feat:

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"I know that words are supposed to be my “thing,” but I will never be able to find the words to thank my mum and my dad, and my brother, Austin, for the sacrifices they made every day so that I could go from singing in coffee houses to standing up here with you all today because no words would ever be enough. 

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. Or if your emergency was that you needed a person who can name over 50 breeds of cats in one minute.”

Several fans offered up to $500 to buy students' tickets to the graduation ceremony, according to the Independent. The New York Post earlier reported that a student told them, “A girl said she would be my ‘biggest fan’ with a megaphone and cheering me on during the ceremony if I gave her a ticket.” New York University, however, mentioned that students who received two tickets to the event were prohibited from selling their passes to anyone.

Before heading to the event, Swift shared a short video of herself in the graduation attire, topped off with a graduation cap with a yellow tassel, animal print heels and her classic red lipstick. She captioned, “Wearing a cap and gown for the very first time - see you soon NYU.”


Wearing a cap and gown for the very first time - see you soon NYU 🥺🥰🗽#swifttok #classof2022

♬ original sound - Taylor Swift

Swift has been hoping to receive an honorary doctorate degree for quite some time. 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.” 

Sheeran was awarded one in 2015 from University Campus Suffolk in his home county of Ipswich for his ‘outstanding contribution to music’.

It was announced earlier this year, that Swift would receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. In a press release announcing the honour, New York University wrote: 

“An 11-time Grammy winner, Ms. 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 honour, the Grammy Award for 'Album of the Year,' three times. Her many awards and distinctions include being the most awarded artist ever in American Music Awards’ history along with being named Artist of the Decade; winner of the BRIT Awards 'International Female Solo Artist of the Year' in 2015 and the 'Global Icon Award' in 2021; and Billboard’s first-ever and only two-time winner of the 'Woman of the Decade' Award. She is the only solo artist this century to have three albums reach No. 1 in one year.” 

In addition, NYU revealed Rolling Stone staff writer, Brittany Spanos would helm a Swift-centric course at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute directed at teaching an understanding of how the musician created a durable presence in the fast-moving musical landscape.

“To me, the class was a no-brainer when Brittany first suggested it,” the chair of the Clive Davis Institute, Jason King told Variety. “She’s a Taylor fan but also understands how to contextualize her culturally and get students to think more deeply about her and her music through the lens of gender, feminism, race, class, and other categories related to identity, and that deeper thinking is what this program is all about. She’s also an NYU alum and a former student of mine and I’ve watched her rise as a journalist and as a person and I’m so excited to bring her in.”

The course description reads in part: “This course proposes to deconstruct both the appeal and aversions to Taylor Swift through close readings of her music and public discourse as it relates to her own growth as an artist and a celebrity. Through readings, lectures and more, the class delves into analyses of the culture and politics of teen girlhood in pop music, fandom, media studies, whiteness and power as it relates to her image and the images of those who have both preceded and succeeded her. We’ll also consider topics like copyright and ownership, American nationalism and the ongoing impact of social media on the pop music industry." 

The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music began in 2003. The school caters to students who dream of becoming music producers, record label company CEOs, and songwriters, among other music professions. Additional course offerings include ones that focus on Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Mercury, and many more iconic artists with Swift now making the list.

Swift recently dominated the country genre at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards with four award wins, including ‘Top Country Artist’, 'Top Country Female Artist’ and ‘Top Billboard 200 Artist’. Her current single, I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) featuring Chris Stapleton peaked at #2 on the Countrytown Hot 50 Country Airplay Chart.  


Keep up to date with Taylor Swift via her Facebook page here.