(The Hill) — Billionaire Rob Hale surprised University of Massachusetts Boston graduates with gifts of $1,000 each at the school’s undergraduate commencement ceremony Thursday.  

Hale, who was the school’s co-keynote speaker, and his wife announced that they will be giving each of the 2,000 undergraduates in attendance $1,000. Each graduate received two envelopes, one with $500 for themselves and another with $500 to give to an organization, family member or supporter. 

“These are turbulent times. You guys have survived. You have prospered. You are to be celebrated. You’ve overcome,” Hale said. “It’s not easy. We’re here. And we are proud of you. We want to share in that celebration with you. We want to give you two gifts. The first is a gift to you. The second is the gift of giving.” 

Hale’s announcement came just before the new graduates were set to walk the stage and was met with loud applause and cheers from the audience. He said he and his wife’s “greatest joy” was the gift of giving. 

“These trying times … heightened the need for sharing, caring and giving. Out community, our world needs you, needs us, more than ever — needs us to be compassionate,” he said.  

Throughout his speech, he also touched on giving back and how students can become leaders in their communities.  

“You’re going to define the next generation of our society, the commonwealth and beyond. You will have a more enjoyable life if you give a little more than you get, and you take a few chances. Don’t fear failure. Defy it! You will have a more fulsome life because of it,” Hale said.