Ryan Seacrest was awarded an honorary doctorate degree and gave a rousing commencement speech at The University of Georgia on Friday. The speech was a mix of sincerity and self-deprecation, with advice from the successful television and radio host and producer. And, because it is 2016, there was a selfie stick involved!
ET’s Katie Krause caught up with Seacrest on Saturday at 102.7 KIIS FM’s Wango Tango 2016 to reflect on the special moment.
“I was scared to death because I wanted to get it right for the students who have worked for years to be there,” Seacrest told ET. “I was up all night trying to figure out what to say to them. We finally came up with something I put on paper and hopefully they appreciated it. It was an honor to do that. I never did that before. Fifty thousand people in the stadium and I was really happy to be there.”
As for calling the former American Idol host “Dr. Seacrest,” the title is not required.
“I don’t think anybody would,” he said. “I think people would throw stuff at me if I called myself that, but technically, [it’s accurate].”
Before graduation, Seacrest spent hours on campus meeting students and even worked out with a few in the gym.
“It was amazing being face to face with someone who my family welcomed into our home for years. Having him as my graduation speaker was like life coming full circle. His speech was amazing and everyone around me really enjoyed it, “ UGA Class of 2016 graduate Teman Worku told ET, “This was the best graduation I could have ever dreamed of!
University of Georgia alum Meredith Dean also witnessed Seacrest’s generosity during a private lunch with students from the Grady College of Journalism students, the school Seacrest attended during his time at the university.
"Ryan Seacrest was everything I thought he would be and more. It's a pretty amazing thing that a man who has so much success gives back so full-heartedly to his alma mater,” Dean told ET. “This man had done so much research on every single student that they were absolutely floored with his thought-provoking and insightful questions for each of them. This is a man who is truly inspiring and will not be forgotten by any of the graduates of the University of Georgia from the Class of 2016.”
Seacrest attended the university 24 years ago for just a year, before dropping out to pursue his broadcasting career in Hollywood. During his speech, Seacrest reflected on his decision to leave school and the naysayers who weren’t so sure he’d make it.
“I was never more sure of anything in my life. When you try something new, when you take a risk, or chance your course, there will be naysayers and well-meaning skeptics. But thank them for their advice. But whatever you do, don’t let them silence you or your intuition,” he declared. “And just like me, know that trusting your gut is the best decision that you could make. Decades from now, to your own amazement, because you trusted your gut, you might end up asking the most famous person in the world, ‘Who are you wearing?’"
Last year, ET took a look back at 2015’s most memorable commencement speeches. See the celebs’ best advice here.