What "Follow Your Dreams" Misses | Harvey Mudd Commencement Speech 2024

Grant Sanderson, a mathematics educator, delivered the commencement speech at Harvey Mudd for the class of 2024, emphasizing the importance of adding value to others in one’s career rather than just following personal dreams. He encouraged graduates to consider how their passions align with benefiting society, adapt to changes, and seize opportunities for personal and societal growth through thoughtful decision-making and proactive actions.

Grant Sanderson, a mathematics educator known for his online videos, was invited as the commencement speaker for the Harvey Mudd class of 2024 due to his inspiring work in the field of mathematics. Grant shared his journey of following his passion for math and creating educational content, emphasizing that merely following one’s dreams may not always lead to success. He highlighted the importance of transitioning from personal growth to adding value to others in one’s career, suggesting that success is based on impacting others positively.

Grant reflected on his own experiences of pursuing math and teaching, noting that his initial passion grew from childhood influences and self-interest. He advised the graduates to consider how their passions align with adding value to society and to focus on actions that contribute positively to others. Grant emphasized the role of timing and luck in career success, encouraging individuals to leverage emerging opportunities and navigate less crowded markets to increase their chances of success.

The speaker discussed the impact of mentors and teachers in shaping career paths, underscoring the importance of encouraging and influencing others, especially younger individuals. Grant urged the graduates to not view passion as a static destination but as a guiding force that may evolve over time based on external influences. He emphasized the need for adaptability and responsiveness to changes in oneself and the world to navigate the unpredictable nature of future career opportunities.

Grant concluded by encouraging the graduating class to focus on adding value to others, taking action before motivation, and seizing current opportunities for career growth. He highlighted the graduates’ potential to shape the future and lead with thoughtful decision-making and adaptability. Grant’s speech aimed to inspire the class of 2024 to approach their professional journeys with a focus on serving others, embracing change, and being proactive in pursuing opportunities for personal and societal growth.