It’s May, so you all know what that means — college graduation season is in full swing. Leaving the place you’ve called home for four years is equal parts exciting, bittersweet, and a little scary. Perhaps that’s why college commencement speeches are so important. When we get a really amazing and inspiring speaker, things feel a little less daunting as we pack up for good and head out into the “real” world.
Of course, it’s downright exciting when a famous face is on campus to deliver a commencement address.
So, in honor of the class of 2017 (and everyone else who needs some inspiration right now), let’s take a look at some celebrity commencement addresses that will inspire you regardless of your age.
The iconic filmmaker and writer returned to her alma mater in 1996 to deliver one of the best commencement speeches of all time. Although the whole speech is filled with inspiring lines, these words in particular are incredibly relevant right now:
During her commencement address at University of Wisconsin — Madison, Couric got down with today’s lingo and urged the grads:
At George Washington University in 2013, Washington urged her alma mater’s graduating class to push themselves out of their comfort zones and write their own life stories: “You and you alone are the only person who can live the life that writes the story you were meant to tell.”
In 2011, Hanks addressed Yale’s graduating class and urged them not to give in to fear:
Kaling brought a whole lot of laughter to Harvard Law School’s Class Day in 2014 (we’d expect nothing less), telling the grads:
The late Apple CEO urged Stanford grads to never settle when it comes to finding a fulfilling and satisfying career — even if the path turns out to be completely different than expected:
Last month, Monae delivered the commencement address at Dillard University and shared a message that’s more important now than ever. Even better? She used NASA’s first black female engineer Mary Jackson, who she brilliantly portrayed in Hidden Figures, as an inspirational example:
The Late Show host returned to his alma mater, Northwestern University, to remind the class of 2011 that dreams can change. Falling short of something doesn’t make you a loser — and don’t let success get to your head.
Winfrey urged Harvard’s 2013 grads to get off social media and engage in face-to-face conversations with those who hold different views — it was almost as though she predicted the future.
Following your dreams requires a leap of faith — and Rudolph knows that firsthand:
In his 2012 commencement speech at Barnard (an all-women’s college), President Obama urged the graduates to use their education and resources to set a positive example — and to pay it forward to the next generation.
Wise words we should all take to heart.