Mark Zuckerberg: Getting into Harvard made my parents proud

Zuckerberg's mom more proud of Harvard than Facebook?
Zuckerberg's mom more proud of Harvard than Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg famously dropped out of Harvard in 2004 to move to Silicon Valley and work on a little website called The Facebook.

On Thursday, he returned to Cambridge to collect an honorary doctorate and give a commencement speech to the class of 2017.

"If I get through this speech today, it will be the first time I actually finish something at Harvard," said Zuckerberg, who swapped out his signature casual wear for a suit and tie.

Though Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he has no intentions of running for office, his speech was often political. He never mentioned President Trump, but Zuckerberg did touch on immigration, climate change, jobs, universal basic income, racism and healthcare during the nearly 40 minute speech. He even suggested "modernizing democracy so everyone can vote online."

First, Zuckerberg took a trip down memory lane. He said his best moment at Harvard was when he met his future wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. ("I turned to her and said, I'm getting kicked out in three days so we need to go on a date quickly.") Chan, who was sitting in the audience wearing a poncho, wiped away tears. His parents were also sitting in the rain, and Zuckerberg said getting in to Harvard was still the most proud his mom had ever been of him.

The theme of his talk was purpose, which he said would be even more important in the future when more people are entrepreneurs and "tens of millions" of jobs are lost to automation. He trotted out the usual lines about the importance of taking chances and failing, saying, "Even Beyoncé had to make hundreds of songs to get 'Halo.'"

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"We should explore ideas like universal basic income," said Zuckerberg, referencing an idea that would pay everyone a base salary, regardless of the work they did. "We're all going to change jobs and roles so we all need affordable childcare and healthcare that's not tied to one employer."

Zuckerberg's commencement speech sounds a lot like a campaign speech
Zuckerberg's commencement speech sounds a lot like a campaign speech

Following your purpose isn't free, so successful people should pay for it, said Zuckerberg. He did not suggest higher taxes for corporations or the wealthy, but did mention the Zuckerberg Chan Initiative, his LLC that is investing in projects that "promote equality."

He also suggested volunteering and talked about his own time teaching kids at a local Boys and Girls Club about entrepreneurship.

"They taught me what it's like being targeted for your race and growing up with a family member in prison," said Zuckerbeg.

Zuckerberg became emotional when talking about one of the kids who is undocumented, but is interested in helping others.

"It says something about our situation today that I can't even say his name because I don't want to put him at risk. But if a high school senior who doesn't even know what the world holds for him can do his part to move the world forward, then we it owe it to the world to do our part too."

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He said progress requires people around the world coming together, which neatly ties into Facebook's own mission. Zuckerberg noted that it's tough for people to care about someone in another country when they're struggling at home.

It's not a battle of nations but of ideas, he said.

"[It's] the forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism. Forces for the flow of knowledge, trade and immigration, against those who would slow them down," said Zuckerberg.

Earlier in the day, the 33-year-old posted an image of his honorary degree and live streamed a visit to his old dorm room. Meanwhile, someone allegedly hacked the school paper's website to make fun of him with fake stories about "Mark Zoinkerburg."

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