‘The future is endless’ – Jon Hamm’s speech celebrates resilience of SLU grads

ST. LOUIS – Hollywood star Jon Hamm delivered a powerful commencement speech Saturday for graduates of Saint Louis University, a message that focused on resilience, community, and turning failure into success.

Born and bred in the St. Louis region, Hamm spoke in a packed Chaifetz Arena with more than 1,600 graduates and thousands of their loved ones.

WATCH: Jon Hamm’s speech – Remarks around 1:04:00-1:16:00

Embracing adversity was a big theme in Hamm’s message, and it didn’t take long for him to address the topic on stage.

“I just want to start off, it’s been mentioned, but a quick aside: Giving this graduate class a real pat on the back for, I don’t know, just making it here,” said Hamm. “You had a pandemic-adjusted, indoor, virtual drive-by celebration getting out of high school.

“And now four years later, because of even more world events sort of out of your control you’re suffering through campus, shut down ceremonies, cancellations, walkouts, disruptions, all this stuff, all of which is to say, your resilience in the face of continued discomfort, distraction, it’s impressive.”

Hamm later touched upon the concept of failure. He explained that he made mistakes in his jump from college to full-time acting, but strived to learn from his personal failures.

“Failure is how we ultimately succeed,” said Hamm. “I have failed my way into success. Every bad audition, every double-shift, every setback in my life has moved me forward, made me better, and brought me ultimately here, imparting to you that wisdom.”

Hamm encouraged graduates to broaden their perspectives as they prepare for their next set of challenges outside of school.

“Finding community only in like-minded algorithms is a one-way ticket to stagnation,” said Hamm. “Creatively, socially, politically, emotionally. … Finding the common ground in seemingly uncommon thoughts and ideas reminds us that we are all part of a much larger community than we even thought.”

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Community was also a key phrase, one that Hamm used 23 times in his speech.

Believe or not, Hamm doesn’t really have ties to Saint Louis University. He acknowledged this too, but he expressed that the value of community, both ones he fostered in St. Louis and beyond, gave him courage to pursue his dreams and succeed.

“If there’s something in your community, however large or small that you find distressing or unmanageable, then by all means take steps to improve it,” said Hamm.

He showed gratitude for communities at the University of Missouri and John Burroughs High School, communities of Cardinals and Blues fans, and communities of roommates and close colleagues over the years.

“We all, at the end of the day, want to do something fulfilling with our lives and find people who will love us through the hard times and the good,” said Hamm. “These things. These ideas cut across all kinds of communities. These are the things that you notice. These are the things that we want to explore, and tend to, and celebrate.”

After mixing in some occasional humor, Hamm closed his speech asking students to celebrate their achievements and take pride in their future endeavors.

“Be proud sons and daughters of St. Louis,” said Hamm. “Be proud of where you’re from, knowing that it made you Be at peace with where you are, knowing it is transitory and is leading to something else on the path, But most importantly, be excited for where you’re going.

“The future is endless. It is ripe with possibility. And it is all yours to make of what you wish.”

Hamm has won Primetime Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and several other accolades in his decorated acting career. For a closer look at his career, click here.

For his remarks at SLU’s graduation speech, click here.

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