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'Big Bird' Speaks at Villanova Graduation
Last Update: 5/17/2004 11:15:25 AM

United Press International

Big Bird Caroll Spinney, whose selection as speaker irked some at Villanova, gave an impressive speech at the Pennsylvania school's graduation.

Spinney, who has been Big Bird and the voice of Oscar the Grouch for decades on Sesame Street, told a commencement ceremony audience he believed it was his destiny to teach children with the help of puppets.

The initial announcement that Spinney was to be the speaker at Villanova was met with skepticism. But the Philadelphia Inquirer said that after Sunday's ceremonies, many graduates felt this brought their education full circle.

Spinney delivered parts of his 11-minute talk as the two characters who have become part of nearly every preschooler's life over the last 35 years. The Inquirer said Spinney opened his speech as Big Bird, saying: Hello. I am your first teacher.

He closed as Oscar the Grouch, pulling the puppet out and having it mouth, In 30 years you may not remember who this guy is but you will remember that Oscar the Grouch was your commencement speaker.

As part of Sunday's ceremony, Spinney was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Photo Copyright Matthew Peyton / Getty Images

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