Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez Remind the Class of 2020 They Have a "Higher Calling"

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez delivered a moving keynote address during the virtual New York City graduation for the class of 2020.
By Alyssa Morin Jul 01, 2020 1:48 AMTags
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Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez continue to inspire us.

On Tuesday, the power couple delivered a touching keynote address during the virtual New York City graduation for the class of 2020. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, students graduating this year have had to celebrate their major milestone from home. 

Despite the adjustment, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza are hoping tonight's virtual graduation is one to remember.

"Class of 2020, we're so excited and honored to be celebrating this great moment with you," the retired MLB star began the commencement speech. "Jen and I are both New Yorkers... first-generation Americans with immigrant parents, who worked hard to give us an opportunity to live the American dream."

J.Lo added, "We know you've worked very hard to get here, and that you're family, friends and teachers must be so proud of the young people you've become. You know we've had our ups and downs, but we continue to fight the fight."

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Class of 2020: Celeb Kids Graduate

The couple said they know the importance of "working together as a team," and A-Rod explained that he learned so many life lessons during his time as a professional baseball player.

"You're not going to be measured in how many times you fall, but how many times you stand up," he said. "Baseball has taught me well. It is a hard, difficult game. If you fail seven out of 10 times, you end up in Cooperstown. That's right, the Hall of Fame. It's the same in business, it's the same in education, it's the same in life."

He added, "I'm here to tell you today that you will fall but you will also rise. If Jen and I had given up, then we wouldn't be here today... There's nothing like youth and energy, and you have both! So swing for the fences, and we will be cheering for you."

Related: How Jennifer Lopez Got Her Kids Involved in Black Lives Matter

"We both remember being in your position with an uncertain future ahead of us," Jennifer shared. "But what we know now is we weren't really in your shoes. We didn't have to celebrate our graduation at home, or watch our teachers or graduation speakers on a screen. We didn't have to learn about our loved ones getting sick, we didn't have protests for racial equality taking place in our streets every day."

"Your generation is facing a series of unique challenges," she continued. "With every great challenge comes a great opportunity. Like so many things in life, this starts with accepting responsibility. To graduate means to elevate, to rise to the next level, to step up to something better."

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The songstress noted that this year's graduating class has a "higher calling" in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. She encouraged students to not be afraid to seek change.

"Being a mom, I know that true change starts at the kitchen table," she expressed. "The only answer to systemic racism, inequality and hate, is systemic love and acceptance. We need to speak up and speak love every chance we get."

She continued, "We need to get involved. March in the streets, sign petitions, make phone calls, volunteer [at] charities, support minority-owned businesses. You can't help your community unless you are really experiencing life with your community."

Jennifer encouraged the 2020 graduating class to keep learning and growing. "You may have earned your degree today, but you never stop being a student. Make an effort to learn more and more every single day," she said. "Change does not come unless you work for it, push for it."

"You guys truly are the future, and we know you will make this world a better place," the singer expressed. Alex added, "Thanks class of 2020 for letting us share this day with you."

Along with J.Lo and A-Rod, other notable celebrities are participating in the NYC event. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tina Fey and so many more will honor and celebrate this year's graduating class.

Watch Jennifer and Alex's full keynote speech here.