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Bill Cosby Mixes Laughter With Inspiration At USF Graduation

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - Bill Cosby had yet to utter a word of his commencement speech, and already the crowd inside St. Ignatius Catholic Church was in stitches. The famed comedian held a tassel-adorned ball cap during the procession, then removed his graduation robe to reveal a University of San Francisco sweat suit underneath.

So began a mixture of laughs and heartfelt advice delivered Friday to the graduating class of the University of San Francisco College of Arts and Sciences.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

Cosby recounted how nervousness before his very first gig in the 1960s nearly derailed his early comedy career, and implored the students, playfully, not to give in to such uncertainty.

"You have this education. You have these expectations. There are parents waiting for you to move out," he said.

"They want you to move out so they can have that house. They can have their dream. The ending where you come back home? They did not dream of that. They dreamt of you going on. They don't want to hear, 'But I was nervous.'"

The creator of Fat Albert, the Cosby Kids and the groundbreaking Cosby Show then sounded a more serious note, stressing the importance of helping people regardless of one's profession.

"It is important for you to understand that your job is to help, to aid, to teach, to hold, to comfort, to make laugh," he said, while all the while learning about the people you are helping without losing sight of altruistic values.

As a teenager, Cosby dropped out of high school, but completed a GED in the US Navy, eventually earning a Master's and a Ph.D. in education.

During the ceremony, the university recognized the 74-year-old for his humor, compassion and commitment to service with an honorary degree.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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