Harvard graduation speech goes viral for inspiring message

"I teach in hopes of turning content into rocket ships, tribulations into telescopes, so a child can see their true potential."

Some are calling it one of the most meaningful graduation speeches of all time.

Twenty-nine-year-old Harvard Masters of Education student Donovan Livingston delivered his original speech "Lift Off" in spoken word poetry.

It described the difficulties African-Americans have historically faced in seeking an education.

“How many times must we be made to feel like quotas, like tokens and coined phases,” he said.

Donovan told the crowd something you might not expect to hear an education student say.

“Injustice is telling them education is the key while you continue to change the locks. Education is no equalizer,” he said.

Donovan said he doesn't believe education alone put everyone on a level playing field.

Talking to FOX25's Heather Hegedus from South Carolina, Donovan said education is just a start, and great teachers are the other half of the equation.

“A teacher saw enough within me to allow me to be able to speak my story and speak my truth and those values really transcended every class, every discipline and it made me more confident as a student,” he said.

He explained more in his speech.

“I was in the 7th grade when Ms. Parker told me ‘Donovan, we could put all of your excess energy to good use.’ And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice, she gave me a stage, a platform,” he said.

Donovan Livingston's Student Speech

One of the most powerful, heartfelt student speeches you will ever hear! Thank you Ed.M. candidate Donovan Livingston for today's spoken word poetry. 
And for those who did not see it -- take 5 minutes and enjoy.

Posted by Harvard Graduate School of Education on Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Donovan works as a college advisor to underprivileged and undocumented students, he has also taught poetry to students in the Bronx.

But, he said, he never expected the attention and publicity he'd be getting from his speech.

“It's been a surreal thing to see your Twitter handle beside Justin Timberlake, but I'm just grateful that we have this platform to be able to open a dialogue about education reform,” he said.

Donovan already had degrees from UNC Chapel Hill and Columbia, and now Harvard, but up next for him he plans on pursing a doctorate from UNC Greensboro and he wants to work on the university level someday, training other teachers.

“So no, no, the sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning; lift off,” he said in the speech.