By Rachel Yang
May 03, 2020 at 07:07 PM EDT
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Sorry to future Wright State University commencement speakers, because it'll be hard to top Tom Hanks' moving speech to the school's 2020 graduates. The actor, who recently recovered from COVID-19, sent a surprise video message to the Ohio institution's grads, who could not have an in-person graduation due to the pandemic.

He began his address, posted to Twitter on Saturday, by calling the students "the chosen ones," not only for their academic achievements but also for entering the real world during a time of change and upheaval.

Credit: Wright State University/Facebook

"You are the chosen ones because of a fate unimagined when you began your Wright State adventures,” Hanks said. “You started in the olden times, in a world back before the Great Pandemic of 2020. You will talk of those earlier years in your lives in just that way."

"Part of your lives will forever be identified as 'before,'" he continued. "In the same way other generations tell time like 'that was before the war,' or 'that was before the internet,' or 'that was before Beyoncé.' The word 'before' is going to carry great weight with you."

Hanks dubbed this time "the great reboot," when young people have had to take on more responsibilities  to become "good Americans," making "sacrifices that have saved lives."

"You'll reference these past weeks for how many other weeks there are yet to come as 'during the pandemic.' 'During the COVID-19, during the lockdown, the quarantine, during the shelter-in-place,'" he added.

And while the "after" for grads may never look the same as their lives pre-coronavirus, Hanks said their accomplishments and experiences will prepare them for challenges in the future.

"You will be enlightened in ways your degree from Wright State never held in promise," he said. "You will have made it through a time of great sacrifice and great need. And no one will be more fresh to the task of restarting our normalcy than you — our chosen ones."

In 2016, the star was honored with the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures at the university.

Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson first tested positive for coronavirus in early March, while they were in Australia for pre-production on Baz Luhrmann's untitled Elvis Presley biopic. Production on the project was halted following Hanks' diagnosis.

Following hospitalization and self-isolation in Australia, the two were able to return home to Los Angeles.

The actor recently appeared on NPR to announce that he and Wilson volunteered to donate their blood and plasma for COVID-19 research to help find what he jokingly dubbed the "Hank-ccine."

"There could be no better ending to this international catastrophe than if the cure turns out to be the blood of Tom Hanks," host Peter Sagal responded.

For the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick, please visit coronavirus.gov.

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