Jon Bon Jovi has stood on the Susquehanna Bank Center stage before, performing with his band, Bon Jovi.
On Thursday, May 21, he was back on that stage, giving the commencement speech to Rutgers University graduates. Naturally, he couldn’t resist the temptation to break out his guitar to sing a little advice to the assembled students.
“I tried to buy you all gifts, but I wasn’t sure of sizes and favorite colors,” Bon Jovi told the grads, according to the Associated Press. “I did what I do best. I was so inspired by this invitation that I sat down and I wrote you a song”
Strapping on a black Takamine—and looking just a little nervous—the New Jersey native performed the new tune, titled “Reunion.” The song begins with the line, “This isn’t how the story ends, my friends, it’s just a fork along the road” and goes on to encourage the new graduates to “start your own revolution.” You can see the performance in the video below. (Gotta love the guy shooting a video onstage.)
Rutgers presented Bon Jovi with an honorary doctorate of letters in recognition of his career and history of philanthropy to combat homelessness and poverty. Over the years, he has helped build a homeless shelter in Camden, New Jersey, affordable housing in Philadelphia, and a restaurant that feeds the homeless.
Bon Jovi said he was drawn to the plight of the homeless in 2006. “I didn’t need a scientist to find the cure,” he told the graduates. “I needed someone to help me help those in need.” He also received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from New Jersey’s Monmouth University in 2001.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Bon Jovi was preceded by Bryan Stevenson, the founder of Equal Justice Initiative, who encouraged the grads to get close to those who are in poverty and struggling. He also said the country needs to address its slavery roots and find a solution to racial injustice.
Bon Jovi stood and applauded Stevenson enthusiastically. Speaking after him, the singer remarked, “I feel they may have gotten the opening act and headliner mixed up today.”