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    Robert De Niro Cracks Jokes, Receives Honorary Doctorate From Bates College

    Robert De Niro Russ Dillingham/ AP

    That's Dr. De Niro to you.

    Robert De Niro was awarded with an honorary doctorate of fine arts during Bates College's commencement ceremony Sunday in Lewiston, Maine, and shared a special (and comical) message with the 463 graduates.

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    "With all due respect to Gwen Ifill and Bonnie Bassler [the other two honorary doctorate recipients], I think this is the most important piece of advice you'll get today: Become a movie star," De Niro said, according to Bangor Daily News. "Now, you might be tempted by other careers, other interests, other commitments. There might be pressure on you to change the world, but you want to find the strength to resist."

    "When I started, I wasn't a movie star, and it sucked," De Niro went on. "The moment I became a movie star, things started to get better."

    And that wasn't the only joke that the 68-year-old Limitless star, who dropped out of high school to pursue an acting career, had in store for the crowd.

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    "My mother would be so proud to see her son, who never graduated high school, standing up here, receiving this honorary doctorate of fine arts," De Niro said. "She would've been more proud of it if it was [from] Harvard."

    But after cracking a few jokes, De Niro got a little more serious, telling the grads, "keep an open mind, welcome new experiences and new ideas. Don't be afraid to try things. Don't be afraid to fail. I always say, if you don't go, you'll never know. Congratulations to the Class of 2012. And congratulations to myself."

    Congratulations, indeed.

    PHOTOS: Graduation Gallery

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