Class Day, a Yale College tradition, includes the awarding of academic, artistic, and athletic prizes; the celebration of undergraduates; and an address by a notable speaker. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, was the 2019 Class Day Speaker. In 2008, Chimamanda graduated with a Master’s Degree from Yale.

I enjoyed listening to her speech, a 28minutes 55seconds speech filled with wit and wisdom. I have written down some of the quotes and life lessons I got from the speech. I hope you learn a thing or two.

1) It is human and okay to have contradictions.

2) Confidence is a journey. A continuous journey and not an absolute destination.

3) Be open to changing your mind. It is often a sign of growth. Be open to the possibility that you might be wrong.

4) Marry being idealistic with being pragmatic.



5) Engage with the world as it is, otherwise you won’t really get anything done but as you do it is important to have as a guiding light a clear vision of what the world should be.

6) On equality and submission; why will a well-balanced person need another person to submit?

7) For those in the corporate world; hire women in executives and not just in human relations!

8) Journalism should be about the truth not about balance…and if you do become a journalist, please learn how to say I’m sorry.


Novelist Chimamanda Adichie (left) responds to applause as she takes her place on stage during Class Day on Old Campus at Yale University in New Haven on May 19, 2019. Adichie delivered the Class Day Address.


9) Knowing how to say I am sorry and meaning I am sorry will serve you well no matter what course your life takes. And if you are one of those people who seem unable to say those words – I am sorry – there is hope. Practicing in front of a mirror helps. Don’t change the subject. Don’t pretend that nothing happened. Don’t buy a gift and deflect. Don’t ride it out in silence hoping it will go away. Just say I am sorry. A few times if necessary and of course it helps if you actually mean it.

10) Do not ever apologize for existing or for taking up space in the world or for having a well considered opinion – particularly to women.

11) You do not have to make room in your life for people who wish you harm.

12) Always look at primary sources first. A useful lesson especially in this age of easy outrage.

13) Honour the doubts that you have. Honour the questions that you have. Do not silence yourself.

14) Don’t be that person who attacks or demeans because you are unable to convince.

15) Nurture your ambitions. Seek to be successful. But keep in mind that there are hollows that success will not fill.



16) Have friends. Many friends. Or just one friend. Hold your family close and family doesn’t necessarily mean those to whom you are related by blood or by social institutions. Hold your friends close. Stand up for your loved ones. Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell them often. Find reasons to laugh. Gravitate towards people with whom you never feel that pressure to perform or to be what you’re not.

17) Never admire quietly. We do not always recognize what is beautiful in ourselves, in our spirits, until somebody has pointed it out to us. And remember that people will hardly ever forget small acts of kindness.

18) Be kind. Paying attention is one of the most beautiful acts of kindness. The people you will come across in your life will not forget when you are kind and they will not forget when you are unkind.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the gift that keeps on giving and I STAN!

See below, the video of the Class Day Speech.


This Article has also been published in THE QUESTION MARKER

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