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'The Big Bang Theory' star Kunal Nayyar delivers commencement speech at University of Portland

Kunal Nayyar, who played Raj in the hit CBS sitcom, graduated from University of Portland four years before landing the leading role.
Credit: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP
Kunal Nayyar, member of the cast of the TV series "The Big Bang Theory" speaks at the handprint in cement ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Actor Kunal Nayyar, who played Raj in the hit CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," delivered the commencement speech at University of Portland's graduation ceremony on Sunday.

Nayyar graduated from UP in 2003, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He got his start in acting doing theater productions at the university during his time there as a student. 

Just four years later, he landed his leading role on "The Big Bang Theory" in 2007 and continued with the show until its finale in 2019.  

From the Chiles Center on Sunday, Nayyar's address to the class of 2022 touched on themes of self-appreciation, living in the present, accepting change and learning to know oneself. 

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"The more you know yourself, the more you begin to see the world the way it actually is, not the way you think it should be," he said, "because all of us are trying to fit this infinite universe into a finite understanding. We're trying to mold the world into this tiny box so we can control it. But I think to be joyful, light, peaceful, it may be helpful to loosen the grip you have on this world a little. Do your thing. Let the universe do its thing too, because nothing lasts forever."

He spoke of the importance of realizing that virtually nothing happens exactly as planned, and that joy should not be postponed for the sake of accumulating goals. Instead, he encouraged the audience to find joy through the journey of achieving one's goals. 

"It's often said, 'Find your purpose so you can live a meaningful life. I'd like to say, why not live a meaningful life and then find your purpose?" he said.

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He spoke of working his first jobs at UP and making mistakes, and how he joined his first theater production because of a girl he had a crush on — but ended up falling in love with acting instead. 

Ahead of the speech, the university presented Nayyar with an honorary doctorate. It was the university's first in-person commencement since 2019.

Watch Nayyar's full commencement speech here: 

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