Will Ferrell delivered the commencement speech for the University of Southern California’s Class of 2017 Friday, with the actor closing out his remarks with a rendition of Whitney Houston‘s take on “I Will Always Love You.”
“Class of 2017, I just want you to know you will never be alone on whatever path you may choose. If you do have a moment where you feel a little down just think of the support you have from this great Trojan family and imagine me, literally picture my face, singing this song gently into your ear,” Ferrell said before singing a modified verse from the smash The Bodyguard song.
“If I should stay, I would only be in your way. So I’ll go, but I know, I’ll think of you every step of the way. And I will always love you, will always love you, will always love you, Class of 2017. And I will always love you.”
During the actor’s speech, Ferrell charted his journey from a USC freshman in 1986 to the Groundlings to Saturday Night Live to box office success. He admitted that, like many of those in the audience awaiting diplomas, he didn’t have a plan upon leaving college.
“To those of you graduates sitting out there who have a pretty good idea of what you’d like to do with your life, congratulations,” he said. “For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.”
Ferrell also joked that while this was the first commencement speech he’d delivered at an actual university, it wasn’t his first time speaking on graduation day.
“The institutions to which I have spoken at previously include Bryman School of Nursing, DeVry Technical School, Debbie Dudeson School of Trucking, University of Phoenix, Hollywood DJ Academy and Trump University,” Ferrell said. “I am still waiting to get paid from Trump University. In fact, it turns out I owe Trump University money for the honor to speak at Trump University.”
Ferrell graduated USC in 1990 with a degree in Sports Information, “a program so difficult, so arduous, that they discontinued the major eight years after I left.” Instead of pursuing a job at somewhere like ESPN, Ferrell instead returned home to Irvine, California and focused on comedy.