Robert De Niro was the guest of honour at a college in Maine on Sunday (27May12) as he received a special degree in recognition of his contribution to the arts.
The Oscar-winning actor donned a cap and gown as he was presented with an honorary degree at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, before addressing students at the institution's commencement ceremony.
During his speech, De Niro admitted he quit school to pursue his acting career, but urged the students not to follow in his footsteps, stressing the importance of education.
He told the audience, "I have one message for you, Class of 2012. Stay in school... I know not all of you will be able to do it - some of you will have to go out into the world... I know that pain of leaving school. For me it happened in the middle of high school. In many ways, leaving school when I did was an advantage. I saved nearly $6,000 by not having to pay tuition and expenses for four years of education...
"But I was in a hurry and, you know, it worked out just fine. I saved the money and I got the degree. I'm a doctor of fine arts. Thank you Bates College. It's too late to save the tuition, but it's not too late to save yourselves."
The actor also shared an emotional moment with the crowd as he revealed his own mother would have been delighted to see her son receive a degree, adding, "My mother would be so proud to see her son, who never graduated from high school, standing up here today receiving this honorary doctorate of fine arts. I imagine she would've been more proud had it been Harvard, but anyway... But, had she learned, as I have, the history of Bates, she would've been moved by my association with this great institution."