On Saturday morning, Howard University awarded rapper and record producer Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs an honorary doctorate degree.
Puff Daddy attended the ceremony to accept his accolade and give a commencement speech to the university’s 2014 graduates. “Ain’t no homecoming like a Howard homecoming,” he said.
Puff Daddy attended the university as a business major in 1988, but dropped out 2 years later to pursue a career in music. In his days at Howard, he was known for throwing large parties that drew thousands of attendees.
There was a backlash against Howard University for deciding to honor Puff Daddy, who never graduated from the school. One Twitter user said, “Diddy is gonna make the commencement speech at Howard, but what is he gonna say, ‘Well I dropped outta here & got rich but good luck.'”
Some of his fans came to his rescue and defended him. One person said that if hip-hop was taught in universities, a successful mogul can certainly deliver a commencement speech.
Despite the backlash, Howard University went through with their decision to honor Puff Daddy. He was honored together with others including Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi, jazz saxophonist Benny Golson, surgeon Clive Callender, and news anchor for CNN Wolf Blitzer.
In Puff Daddy’s speech, he talked about how his time at the university made a big impact on his life, saying that attending the school did not just change his life, but his spirit, being, heart, and soul as well. He also thanked his mother for working four jobs just so he could attend Howard.
Puff Daddy also talked about his experience running the New York City marathon in order to raise money for the public school system. His efforts paid off as he was able to raise millions of dollars. “My Harlem family got me through the marathon. Just like my Howard family got me and you to this point today,” he said.
Puff Daddy told the graduates that they were prepared for the marathon of life, unlike himself, who dropped out before graduating. He said that if he did not drop out, he would be prepared for some of the things he encountered when he was starting his career. “You have earned your Howard degree,” he told the graduates.
Before ending his speech, Puff Daddy said “I can’t wait for you to live in a world that you are about to create. I can’t wait to witness the crazy dreams that you’re gonna make real. I can’t wait to watch you change the world.”
The 44-year-old music mogul posted pictures of the event on his Instagram account. Throughout his career, he has changed his stage name several times, using Puff Daddy, Diddy and P.Diddy, before changing his name back to Puff Daddy again. Perhaps now that he has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree, he can use the stage name Dr. Combs.