From celebrities to genius billionaires, speakers will find a place on podiums around the country to share their graduation speeches. These speeches are meant to inspire, motivate and congratulate graduates. It is one last chance for an institution to instill knowledge in its students. Find some encouragement in these quotes from a few particularly stirring speeches.
Sheryl Sandberg on choices in the adult life at Barnard College
“Do not lean back; lean in. Put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision. That’s the only way, when that day comes, you’ll even have a decision to make.”
Oprah Winfrey on driving your own life path at Spelman College
“You want to be in the driver’s seat of your own life, because if you’re not, life will drive you.”
Conan O’Brien on defining moments at Dartmouth College
“Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”
Steve Jobs on following your own heart’s passion at Stanford University
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
Katie Couric on appreciating the small things at Randolph Macon College
“The losses I’ve experienced have taught me something else: we are all terminal. You have to appreciate the gifts that every day of your life will bring: your family, your friends. A beautiful sky at sunset. A perfect ear of corn in August. The first snowfall of the year. A baby’s tiny hand. Be grateful for the time you have and savor the joy that comes your way.”
Stephen Colbert on following dreams at Northwestern University
“If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed, and you’re not some loser. But just as importantly — and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to — if you do get your dream, you are not a winner.”
Arianna Huffington on redefining success at Smith College
“Remember that while there will be plenty of signposts along your path directing you to make money and climb up the ladder, there will be almost no signposts reminding you to stay connected to the essence of who you are, to take care of yourself along the way, to reach out to others, to pause to wonder and to connect to that place from which everything is possible.
Bill Watterson on creative integrity and the trials of life at Kenyon College
“The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.”
George Saunders on the influence of kindness at Syracuse University
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”
Joss Whedon in accepting duality in life at Wesleyan University
“Identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is a process that you must be active in.”
As we celebrate graduation, let these commencement speeches and words of wisdom fill you with timeless advice.