Jill Layton
May 19, 2015 8:23 am

The 2015 graduation season is upon us, which means commencement speeches are happening. And that means free life advice for all humans! To celebrate all of the new (and soon-to-be) grads, we’ve decided to round up some of the best advice given by this year’s wise, and pretty hilarious, celebrity commencement speakers. Because, honestly, we can all use good advice and inspiration—no matter if you graduated today or many years from today.

Maya Rudolph, Tulane University

Let’s start with the amazing Maya Rudolph, who not only entertained fans with a killer, Beyoncé-inspired rendition of the National Anthem, but also dropped this dope life advice: “If I could give my 21-year-old self any advice, it would be to take as many bikini photos as you can now, because your body is smokin’ hot. . . But seriously, if I could give my 21-year-old self the advice I’m giving you today. . . it would be this — say yes. . . create your own destiny, hold onto your old friends, kiss your momma, admit what your dreams are, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re gonna do tomorrow, but work hard and don’t be lazy — and put away your damn iPhone once in a while.”

Stephen Colbert, Wake Forest University 

The funny man got serious in his poignant words to students: “It may seem counterintuitive now, but when you leave here, you may miss being graded on all your work. There are no objective criteria for achievement anymore… Having your own standards allows you to perceive success where others may see failure. You have the power — you are your own professor now, which I know is a little creepy, because that means you’re showering with your professor. But you have tenure. They can’t fire you.”

Ed Helms, University of Virginia 

Simple truth from The Office star: “Never let others define you, define yourselves.”

Meredith Vieira, Boston University 

Oh Meredith, can you just be our mom? “If you haven’t found a job or decided on a career path yet, don’t freak out. Don’t let fear or frustration, or the fact that others around seem to be all set, immobilize you. But do, from this day forward, open yourself up to possibilities you might never have considered. Step up, step out of your comfort zone, consider saying ‘yes,’ even when ‘no’ feels much safer. . . If you want to get your foot in the door, it helps to get you fingers off the smartphones, look people in the eye — engage. You want people to like you and not just give you ‘likes.'”

Vice President Joe Biden, Yale

“You know, when President Obama asked me to be his vice president, I said I only had two conditions. One, I wouldn’t wear any funny hats. .  . And two, I wouldn’t change my brand. Look to your left, as they say, and look to your right. And remember how foolish the people next to you look in those ridiculous hats. I mean this. Because it means you’ve learned something from a great tradition. It means you’re willing to look foolish … in the service of what matters to you.”

Denzel Washington, Dillard University

“Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big, but remember, dreams without goals, are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment. . . I try to give myself a goal every day, sometimes it’s just not to curse somebody out. . . You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. I don’t care how much money you make, you can’t take it with you. . . It’s not how much you have, it’s what you do with it. . . Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”

Bill Nye, Rutgers University

“The oncoming trouble is Climate Change: It is going to affect you all in the same way the Second World War consumed people of my parents’ generation. They rose to the challenge, and so will you. They came to be called The Greatest Generation. I want you all to preserve our world in the face of Climate Change and carry on as The Next Great Generation.”

Naomi Judd, Berea College

Naomi says cool things while wearing a cool hat: “You get to write your own story. Today is a great day to start thinking about what you want your story to be.”

George W. Bush, Southern Methodist University

Dubya busted out some hope for average students everywhere:  “Those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards and distinctions — I say well done. And, as I like to tell the C-students, you too can be president.”

Tim Cook, George Washington University

The CEO of Apple told students: “The sidelines are not where you want to live your life. The world needs you in the arena. There are problems that need to be solved, injustices that need to be ended, people that are still being persecuted, diseases still in need of cure. No matter what you do next, the world needs your energy, your passion, your impatience with progress. Don’t shrink from risk. And tune out those critics and cynics.”

Katie Couric, University of Wisconsin — Madison

“Now is the time to consider all the infinite possibilities with introspection, deliberation and thoughtfulness. Visualize the road ahead. Think about what excites you, what really gets your engine going. Engage in some real soul searching. Take a good, hard look at your strengths and weaknesses. A fulfilling professional life can be found at the intersection of what you love and what you’re good at. And when you think you’ve discovered it, go at it full throttle. Explore. Talk to people. Pick their brains. Do your homework. Finding the right work takes work… and time.”

Jimmy Buffett, University of Miami

“Passion is the most important ingredient of all to me. Passion, not profit, should always be your guide.”

Featured images via and via

Advertisement