Graduation ceremonies do not look the same this season. To celebrate the class of 2020, Random House gathered eight bestselling authors to share words of wisdom in a virtual commencement event on Tuesday, May 12. The all-star cast included David Brooks, Lauren Graham, Wes Moore, Anna Quindlen, Reshma Saujani, George Saunders, and Martha Stewart, as well as Wake Forest’s own Dr. Donovan Livingston.

Donovan, a Staff affiliate for the Program for Leadership and Character and Assistant Dean in the Office of University Collaborations at Wake Forest, delivered a viral spoken-word commencement speech, Lift Off, at Harvard University in 2016 which attracted over 14 million views and later became a bestselling book. Building upon his rallying message about the power of education in Lift Off, Donovan delivered another commencement speech on the power of both justice and joy. Donovan has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and defended his dissertation on May 19. He contributes to the Program for Leadership and Character by leading workshops on diversity, inclusion, storytelling and poetry, mentoring Leadership and Character Scholars, and most recently, co-organizing the Legacies of Leadership series in conjunction with Winston-Salem State University to commemorate the Winston-Salem sit-in 60 years ago.

The Program for Leadership and Character hosted a watch party for the students enrolled in Dr. Michael Lamb’s first year seminar “Commencing Character: How Should We Live?”, which focused on commencement speeches about character and included Donovan as a guest speaker. Each participant received one of the author’s books and gathered for a discussion afterward with Dr. Lamb and Ann Phelps, Director of Programming for Leadership and Character.

To view Donovan’s 2016 commencement speech, click here, or to view his book, click here.