As thousands upon thousands of students complete their schooling and accepting their diploma some musicians are also receiving honorary degrees from world-renowned universities.

Justin Timberlake and Missy Elliott were two of the recent cap and gown-clad giftees at the Berklee College of Music‘s commencement on Saturday (May 11) in Boston. The pop star and rap queen – who is the first hip-hop artist to receive this honor from the prestigious university – enjoyed a celebratory weekend with staff and students, which culminated at a ceremony when they were handed their honorary doctorates in music.


Timberlake cracked a few jokes during his speech before offering some sage advice  : “You’re defined by what you define failure as. It’s not a thing if it leads you to your success. It’s all part of the journey.” The “Work It” artist gave a similar statement, saying “I just want y’all to know, there will be ups and downs. Prepare for that, but don’t give up. I know you may hear that all the time, but if I had given up long ago, I wouldn’t be standing here today. You have come too far to quit.” Watch the full address below.

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