Every year, thousands of commencement speeches are delivered at schools around the country. Many of them carry inspirational, motivational and uplifting messages. However, there are always a few that stand out above the crowd. Here is a list of 10 speeches that we think are more than worth your time. Let us know what commencement speeches are your favorite in the comments!
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Steve Jobs – Stanford University
Here, we see Steve Jobs delivering his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005. In it, he talks about getting fired from Apple in 1985, life and death.
Oprah Winfrey – Howard University
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey received an honorary doctorate and inspired an audience of graduates at the historically black Howard University. “After all the partying is over,” Winfrey said, “the anxiety may start to creep in. What do you do now with all this education?”
Jon Stewart – College of William and Mary
Jon Stewart, speaking at his alma mater, the College of William and Mary, was just as funny as he typically is on his nightly “Daily Show” TV program. “I know that the decisions I made after college worked out. But at the time, I didn’t know that they would.”
J.K. Rowling – Harvard University
In her commencement speech at Harvard University, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling talked about the “benefits of failure” and the “crucial importance of imagination.”
Conan O’Brien – Harvard University
Thirteen years ago, Conan O’Brien was still the host of his long running “Late Night” TV program when he gave this commencement speech to students at Harvard University, his alma mater.
Speech Part 2:
Stephen Colbert – Northwestern University
“Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go.”
Ellen DeGeneres – Tulane University
Top-rated TV host and New Orleans native Ellen DeGeneres was the keynote speaker at Tulane University’s 2009 ceremony. This was the graduation of the “Katrina Class” that had entered in Fall 2005.
David Foster Wallace – Kenyon College
This is the commencement address he gave to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005. It captures his electric mind, and also his humility. He elevated many of the lonely thoughts that rattle around in our heads and made them meaningful and beautiful.
Speech Part 2:
Sheryl Sandberg – Barnard College
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg delivered the keynote at Barnard College’s 119th Commencement ceremony. Addressing approximately 600 members of Barnard’s Class of 2011, Sandberg implored the young women to, “Never let your fear overwhelm your desire.”
Aaron Sorkin – Syracuse University
Aaron Sorkin ’83, screenwriter of The Social Network, used his particular blend of wit and principles to deliver a stirring commencement address for the 158th graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 13, 2012.