Ms. Rachel captivated the crowd with her words as she delivered an emotional commencement speech at New York University.

The popular online children’s educator, whose real name is Rachel Griffin Accurso, began her speech by saying how “incredibly honored” she was to be on the stage and thanking the faculty, staff and senior leadership at NYU.

During her speech, Ms. Rachel opened up about her experience with imposter syndrome when she was invited to be an early childhood expert at an event recently.

“I definitely have imposter syndrome,” she shared. “I have it right now. I’m kind of freaking out. A lot of us have thoughts like that. You’re not good enough; you should shrink and not take up space. … Our thoughts can tell us we’re the opposite of who we are. Our thoughts lie.”

She continued, “I used to wait for someone powerful to give me permission to use their power. Other people were the gatekeepers, the change makers. But the truth is, you don’t need to wait for anyone else; find your role to play and show up. You are the one.”

PHOTO: Ms. Rachel delivered emotional commencement speech at NYU.

Ms. Rachel delivered emotional commencement speech at NYU.

NYU Steinhardt School

Her journey into making videos for kids began when she was looking on YouTube and streaming sites for a show that would help her son, who had a severe speech delay, with speech development.

“But I couldn’t find anything like what I was imagining. I kept thinking someone should do a show with all the great speech development strategies and early intervention techniques. We were learning,” she recalled.

With support from her husband, she launched her channel, which now has over 6 billion views on YouTube.

“A lot of us think we’re not good enough. That we can’t act until we hit some ideal level of knowledge. It’s not true,” she said.

Getting visibly emotional, she continued, “You don’t need to wait for anyone else to show up. When you see a need, when you see an injustice, a way the world could be better, use the unique gifts and talents you have to serve the world. We don’t know what will happen, but we guarantee nothing will change if we don’t try.”

Ms. Rachel said she continues to be inspired and motivated by what she hears from families about the challenges they are facing and their needs, noting that the families “have blessed me with a platform that I can now use to advocate.”

“I’ve been advocating for children’s rights, fighting for every child to have access to early childhood education, a safe place to live, the support they need to grow and thrive and for their families who care for them, paid family leave, and affordable child care,” she said. “I don’t feel qualified to do this work. But I also didn’t feel qualified to make our show or make this speech, honestly. And here I am trying.”

Concluding her message to the graduates, she said, “The one you are waiting for to change the world, the one with the power and the genius and the vision, it’s you.”



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