Tom Hanks
Photo Credit: @stephanie_blair_mitchell / Harvard Staff Photographer

Tom Hanks has been awarded for his years of entertainment, philanthropy and activism with an honourary degree from Harvard, and delivered an entire platter of food for thought in his speech.


Massachusetts, United States (28 May, 2023)—Getting a degree from Harvard is one thing, being awarded an honourary degree is in a league all of its own. So, it’s not surprising that Tom Hanks made fans around the world proud by receiving an honourary Harvard degree this week. Indeed, sometimes the chocolates we get in this box of life are very sweet.

As part of six people who were awarded honourary degrees for 2023, Thomas Jeffery Hanks earned a new role: Doctor of Arts.

According to the prestigious university, the Hollywood icon and Oscar Winner got his degree partly because of his contribution to film and television, but also for his philanthropy.

“He has helped raise support for AIDS and cancer research, space exploration, and the national World War II Memorial, among other causes. He is campaign chair of Hidden Heroes, which supports military caregivers’ work with veterans.”

Hanks’ contributions have often touched more than American lives as an environmentalist, gender-equality advocate and a voice for equality everywhere (even when it landed him in hot water, like the time he challenged how history in America is taught because it leaves out important stories of non-white people).

So, many agree that the degree comes well-earned.

Addressing Harvard’s 2023 class, Tom Hanks playfully referenced his only claim to Harvard being a professor role he played in the Da Vinci Code and his graduation records as a student of the School of the Hard Knocks.

He then led into a powerful speech referencing responsibility, truth and freedom through humour like the global dad he is.

Tom Hanks wouldn’t be Tom Hanks without serving up some food for thought that even those of us thousands of kilometres away from the US can take notes from despite the American references.

“There’s no superman, there’s just us on this planet.”

You can watch his full address below!

Sources: Harvard University
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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