VESTAL, N.Y. -- Stephanie Courtney, who has been playing "Flo" in Progressive Insurance commercials since 2008, graduated from Binghamton University in 1992 and on Sunday, gave the speech at the spring commencement ceremony.

"You are Binghamton University graduates. You are Bearcats. You're half bear and half cat, so go out and change the world."

Courtney provided graduating BU students with these words of wisdom: hard work pays off.

"People ask me about the job and the audition, but I want to talk to you about the 15 years before that because those are the years that made me who I am and four of those years were spent here at this incredible university," Courtney said.

She told stories, gave advice, and like her character, drew plenty of laughter.

"Everyone was really receptive just because she was so funny," said Jared Frazer, a graduate.

"Go forward because you literally cannot go back," Courtney said.

"We're young so sometimes listening to these speeches, we know you're going to tell us the same things over and over again, but she really told us in a way that related to us," said Adalyz Hernandez, a graduate.

Many students said it's a speech they'll definitely remember.

"She said you know, go to every interview and you're going to fail but don't be afraid to fail and that's one thing that I've really taken from here," said Hernandez.

For many, hearing from one of their own was inspiring.

"It gives us hope because when people come out of your school and they're successful, it makes you feel like you're going to come out as successful as them," Hernandez added.

Courtney was recently named one of the top female ad icons of all time and has also acted in several television shows and films including "Mad Men," "House," and "The Heartbreak Kid."