Sheryl Lee Ralph has continuously shown fans the proof of perseverance and believing in yourself. She has had quite the year ever since ABC’s Abbot Elementary rose to become a sitcom masterpiece. Now, graduates at Rutgers University got the chance to witness a bit of her Black girl magic, up close and personal.
The Emmy-winning actress took to the stage on Mother’s Day to deliver a speech about the key to a happy life. Ralph graduated from New Jersey college in 1975 and became the youngest female graduate at the time. “In the fall of 1972, I became one of 400 teenage women chosen to form the first freshman class of women to break the gender barrier and usher co-education,” she said during the ceremony.
“I could have just imagined what it was like when you first came here to the campus as freshmen,” Ralph continued. “Our country and the world took a tragic and difficult turn. Kobe died, George Floyd was killed and then the world and everything changed when COVID-19…shut down the world. But you, you stayed the course, you never gave up, you found your way, you kept on studying, you kept doing the work. And you are here on graduation day!”
The graduating class was enthralled by Ralph’s message. Her words instilled hope in everyone’s hearts. Finding joy is important to her and she made sure to drill that into the grads. “Hold on to it. Wrap yourselves in it. Live in it, because that is the key to a happy life.”