Missy Elliott Received a Major Honor in December

Super producer, singer, rapper, and songwriter Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott recently gave the commencement address at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. A Virginia native herself, the Grammy winner delivered a heartfelt 10-minute address to the December 2022 graduates, and she did so without notes. She told graduates to make sure that they surrounded themselves with friends who have "good energy" as an encouragement to achieve their goals. While she's accomplished tons in her career thus far, she preached words of pride to the graduates with so much to look forward to.

"I am proud of y'all and y'all should be proud of y'all self," Elliott told the grads. "Now I want y'all to look at each other and say: 'You already won.' "Let 'em know. There ain't no winning. You already won. Y'all could have been doing anything else these last few years. Y'all could have been wildin' out, but y'all decided to finish the course, and that's major."

Elliott was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the university. She, in turn, donated a check for $20,000. The degree comes just after Elliott revealed she had a street named after her this fall. The Portsmouth native had her own day declared by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Oct. 17 is officially "Missy Elliott Day" in Virginia. She was also awarded the key to the city.

"As a native Virginian, she has inspired young women in the Commonwealth and beyond to pursue careers in the arts and music," the governor said of the star on that day. "She is the American dream!"

As for the graduates of Norfolk, she wants them to be confident. She told them that no matter the hurdles, "quitting is not an option."

It's not her first honorary doctorate. In May 2020,  she received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Elliott made history as the first female rapper ever to receive an honorary doctorate from the school. Berklee called Elliott a "groundbreaking solo superstar, pioneering producer, songwriter, singer, and rapper." 

In a similar speech to the one she gave students at Norfolk two years later, she told them that "there will be ups and downs — prepare for that." She added: "As long as you are breathing, it is never too late. Don't forget that. You have come too far to quit."