Tom Hanks Has A Great Commencement Message For College Students Graduating During Pandemic

Tom Hanks in The Post

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted life in a lot of ways, including education. Not only have schools around the world been forced to close their doors and continue classes online, but in-person graduation ceremonies have been canceled, like at Wright State University. Luckily for the graduating class of the Ohio-located college this year, they were treated to a digital appearance from Hollywood icon and America’s unofficial dad, Tom Hanks.

The star of movies like Forrest Gump and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood delivered the commencement speech to Wright State University’s graduating students during a virtual ceremony this past weekend, and he kicked things off this group “the chosen ones.” Why did he describe them that way? Tom Hanks explained his rationale as follows:

You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures. You started in the olden times, in a world back before the Great Pandemic of 2020. You will talk of those earlier years in your lives in just that wayPart of your lives will forever be identified as 'before' in the same way other generations tell time like, 'Well, that was before the war,' or 'That was before the internet,' or That was before Beyoncé.' The word 'before' is going to carry great weight with you.

These are indeed strange times, and while it’s unclear when daily life will start returning to normal, one would imagine that it’ll feel like the start of a new era. As such, Wright State University’s graduating class, and by extension the other graduating classes from universities across the world, finds themselves standing out more than most past graduating classes, which Tom Hanks pointed out in his commencement speech. Should we just start throwing BGP (Before Great Pandemic) and AGP (After Great Pandemic) into regular usage now?

If anyone’s qualified to talk about the coronavirus impacting their life, it’s Tom Hanks. He and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for the disease in mid-March while they were in Australia, where Hanks was taking part in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic as Colonel Tom Parker. After spending nearly a week in the Gold Coast University Hospital, Hanks and Wilson quarantined for over a week, and then finally returned to Los Angeles on March 27.

Since then, Tom Hanks has gone into greater detail about his experience with COVID-19 in both interviews and while delivering the monologue on Saturday Night Live’s first “At Home” episode. He and Rita Wilson have also donated plasma to help medical professionals develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Tom Hanks has had an amiable relationship with Wright State University for nearly half a decade now, as he visited the institution in 2016 to dedicate its Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures and also led a fundraising campaign that raised over $167 million for the school. You can listen to Hanks’ full commencement speech for the outgoing WSU students below.

Tom Hanks was supposed to appear in Greyhound next month, but the World War II movie was taken off the calendar in late March and hasn’t been given a new release date yet However, his other two 2020 movies, Bios and News of the World are both still set to come out on October 2 and December 25, respectively. As for Elvis, it’s halted filming and has been pushed back to November 5, 2021, with fellow Warner Bros release The Batman taking its original October 1, 2021 slot.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on Elvis and Tom Hanks. In the meantime, browse through our delayed movies guide to learn what other movies are arriving later than expected.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.