Breaking News
More () »

CBS Mornings anchor Gayle King delivers University of Maryland commencement speech

King was back on campus in College Park for the first time since graduating in 1976.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Even though it's been 47 years since CBS Mornings anchor Gayle King set foot on the campus of her alma mater, there was one particular spot that was demanded her attention. 

"I'm not taking an exam but I am giving my very first ever commencement speech. Please let it go well, Testudo. Please!" King pleaded with the University's terrapin statue embossed in bronze and set upon a pedestal outside the main library. 

Rubbing his nose furiously as students have done since well before King began her own college studies, she articulated her nervousness about delivering that first ever commencement speech.

"I don't want to be the boring, cliché person," King said. "I feel pressure with grandparents in the room and mom and dad and students in the room. Half of them want to hear you and the other half don't cause they're ready to go."   

King graduated with a degree in psychology from Maryland in 1976.

"I'm not kidding about this, I am so freaking nervous. I am. Number one, because it's my first college graduation speech. I've always always turned them down," King said. 

It was UMCP President Dr. Darryll Pines who ultimately convinced King to join the commencement activities. 

In her speech, she told the crowd about taking up hiking and the parallels with life.  

"Not every decision you make has to be permanent. We continue to learn and evolve one step at a time," said King. "Sometimes your next step isn’t what you have in mind. But say yes anyway."

Earlier in the day she stopped to chat and take photos with students adorned in their caps and gowns. King whipped out a note card to write down the student's name and major while peppering him with questions about what he had leaned from the college experience over four years. 

Unsurprisingly, that student ended up with a brief mention in her speech. 

"I'm always looking for little nuggets of reality. Like, 'what does it mean to you? What did you learn here?'" She said. 

King says people had offered plenty of advice ahead of her writing a speech. That advice included the common themes of graduation being a beginning or an end.

"I do think it's a whole new chapter. Things are not going to go according to plan. Sometimes they will. Sometimes they won't. And when they don't, it's OK," said King. 

"You just want them to walk out feeling great about today. And what I know is that this is such a happy day for so many people and I just want to keep that going. I want to keep that going."

WATCH NEXT: President Biden delivers Howard University commencement address

Before You Leave, Check This Out