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Zuckerberg urges Harvard grads to build a world of 'purpose'

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/25/2017 By BARBARA ORTUTAY, AP Technology Writer
Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, left, is presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Vice President and Secretary of Harvard University Marc Goodheart, right, during Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) © The Associated Press Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, left, is presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Vice President and Secretary of Harvard University Marc Goodheart, right, during Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook's CEO returned to Harvard Thursday, telling graduates that it is up to their generation to create a purpose for today's world, to care about others, to fight inequality and strengthen the global community.

Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, center, greets graduating Harvard students as he walks in a procession though Harvard Yard at the start of Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. Zuckerberg is giving a commencement address at Harvard, where he dropped out 12 years ago to focus on Facebook. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) © The Associated Press Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, center, greets graduating Harvard students as he walks in a procession though Harvard Yard at the start of Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. Zuckerberg is giving a commencement address at Harvard, where he dropped out 12 years ago to focus on Facebook. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

"Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us," Mark Zuckerberg said after sharing anecdotes about graduates like David Razu Aznar, a former city leader who led the effort to legalize gay marriage in Mexico City, and Agnes Igoye, who grew up in conflict zones in Uganda and now trains law enforcement officers.

Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, right, gestures as actor James Earl Jones, left, looks on while seated on stage during Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. Zuckerberg was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree Thursday and gave a commencement address at Harvard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) © The Associated Press Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, right, gestures as actor James Earl Jones, left, looks on while seated on stage during Harvard University commencement exercises, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. Zuckerberg was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree Thursday and gave a commencement address at Harvard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

"And this is my story too. A student in a dorm room, connecting one community at a time, and keeping at it until one day we can connect the whole world," said the 33-year-old billionaire, who received an honorary doctorate degree on Thursday, 12 years after dropping out of Harvard to focus on Facebook.

In this Tuesday, May 23, 2017, photo, provided by Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg looks out the window in his old dorm room at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass. Zuckerberg started Facebook in his dorm room in 2004, and also met his wife, Priscilla Chan, at Harvard. On Thursday, May 25, Zuckerberg will give the commencement address at the university, where he dropped out years earlier to focus on Facebook. (Courtesy of Ommanney/Facebook via AP) © The Associated Press In this Tuesday, May 23, 2017, photo, provided by Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg looks out the window in his old dorm room at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass. Zuckerberg started Facebook in his dorm room in 2004, and also met his wife, Priscilla Chan, at Harvard. On Thursday, May 25, Zuckerberg will give the commencement address at the university, where he dropped out years earlier to focus on Facebook. (Courtesy of Ommanney/Facebook via AP)

Zuckerberg, who like the graduates is a millennial, started Facebook in his dorm room in 2004. What began as a closed networking site for Harvard students is now a global communications force with nearly 2 billion members.

FILE- In this April 18, 2017, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at his company's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Zuckerberg is scheduled to give a commencement speech at Harvard, the university he dropped out of years ago to create Facebook, on Thursday, May 25. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File) © The Associated Press FILE- In this April 18, 2017, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at his company's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Zuckerberg is scheduled to give a commencement speech at Harvard, the university he dropped out of years ago to create Facebook, on Thursday, May 25. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Zuckerberg follows another famous Harvard dropout, Bill Gates, who spoke before its graduates a decade ago. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who dropped out of Reed College in Oregon, gave Stanford's commencement speech in 2005, reminding students to "stay hungry, stay foolish."

Besides launching Facebook, Zuckerberg also met his wife, Priscilla Chan, at Harvard. Chan went on to become a pediatrician. Together, the two formed the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic organization focused on advancing science and education. They have also pledged to give away 99 percent of their massive wealth.

On Thursday, Zuckerberg received an honorary doctoral degree from the university, along with nine other people including the actress Judi Dench, the composer John Williams (known for "Star Wars," ''Harry Potter" and many other scores) and Somali human rights activist and physician Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe.

"If I get through this speech today it'll be the first time I actually finish something here at Harvard," Zuckerberg said. He did.

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