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Wyclef Jean Receives Honorary Doctorate

Forget about calling him Clef – from now on, it’s Dr. Wyclef Jean. The Grammy Award-winning musician was recently awarded with an honorary doctorate from Western Connecticut State University in Danbury during a May 23 ceremony, during which the Haitian-American delivered a commencement speech titled ‘Vision for the Future’ to the graduating class of 2010.

His speech, inspired by African-American civil rights leader, pastor and congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., encouraged WestConn graduates to make their dreams a reality. “What he said formed the basis for the message I want to give you today — that we all have the ability to achieve our dreams, if only we can envision what we want and plan to make it happen,” he said. “I’d like to challenge each of you to define success for yourself. You will find that making a commitment to others as well as yourself will be key.”

He continued by using his own personal story as a means to inspire the graduates. “I used to ride a donkey to school in Haiti,” he said. “I lived in a one-room shack. When I came to America, I didn’t speak a word of English. Today I am able to travel the world, reach people with my music, work on behalf of my native Haiti and even speak at a college commencement. I am proof that anything you want is possible, if you can only envision it first.”

Additionally, Jean received a $9,500 check for his Yéle Haiti Foundation, which became the go-to organization for donations to help victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12.

Jean is currently working on his upcoming ‘Wyclef Jean,’ expected to hit retail via Columbia Records later this year. The first single, “Hold On (Haiti)” featuring Mavado, was released shortly after the earthquake.

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