BOULDER, Colo. - Legendary actress Julie Andrews urged more than 6,000 University of Colorado graduates to "live lightly on this Earth and give generously" during the Friday morning graduation ceremony for the Class of 2013.
"Use your knowledge, and your heart, to stand up for those who can't stand, speak for those who can't speak, be a beacon of light for those whose lives have become dark," Andrews told the graduates and their friends and family members assembled at CU Boulder's Folsom Field, the Daily Camera reported.
The Senior Class Council broke with an informal tradition of inviting only those with close CU ties to be the commencement speaker and courted Andrews, the Academy Award-winning actress who starred in "The Sound of Music," "Mary Poppins" and "The Princess Diaries."
The 77-year-old actress immediately charmed the crowd.
"Hello Buffalo people," Andrews said as she took the stage in Boulder. "How are you?"
The crowd roared.
--Oscar-winning actress 'kissed the buffalo'--
Andrews told them she started Thursday evening on Pearl Street and "kissed the buffalo," a time-honored rite of passage for CU students, the Camera reported. She ended her night at The Sink on University Hill, the same restaurant that President Barack Obama visited during his first trip to Boulder in April 2012.
She also made a Ralphie the Buffalo reference.
"I think I should be careful referring to Ralphie as a 'he,' because, as I understand it, Ralphie is really a she playing a he, right? Which pleases me. because in 'Victor Victoria' -- for those of you who have not seen the movie or the musical -- I played a character that was a she playing a he who was playing a she.
"Clearly, Ralphie and I can relate."
Andrews encouraged the students to embrace life-long learning and to do their part to better their world.
--Be an ambassador for 'the kind of world you want to live in'--
"Be a part of all that is decent and be an ambassador for the kind of world that you want to live in," she said.
To help make her point that graduates should "go out and learn something" when faced with adversity, Andrews shared a personal anecdote about a botched throat operation that caused her to lose her singing voice.
At the time, she was writing a children's book with her daughter.
"I was bemoaning my fate and she said, 'Mom, you've simply found a new way of using your voice,'" Andrews recalled. "Suddenly, the weight of sadness fell from my shoulders and I embraced this new learning experience wholeheartedly."
Since then, Andrews and her daughter have together written 30 children's books.
Andrews also made an endearing pitch for the arts during her speech.
"Wherever your path takes you, make the arts a meaningful part of your life in some way. Honestly, they are food for the soul. They revitalize us. They transport us. Inspires us. Shape us. Humble us. They connect us worldwide in ways that nothing else can."
The ceremony started at 8:30 a.m. and was open to CU students, faculty and staff, as well as the public. Security was tighter at this event than it was in past years due to the recent Boston Marathon bombings.