Great Commencement Speeches and Quotes

A friend of mine posted a link to a commencement speech, and it made me think of other great commencement speeches that I’ve heard, and I decided to collect them here. I’ll start with mine, which I think is pretty great (bonus points – I’m in the video) :

Bono, Penn Class of 2004

Some other great speeches:

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford

J.K. Rowling, Harvard University, 2008

John F. Kennedy , American University, 1963

David Foster Wallace, Kenyon, 2005

Conan O’Brien, Harvard University, 2000

Jeff Bezos, Princeton

.Oprah Winfrey – Spelman College, 2005

Michael Lewis – Princeton University, 2012

Ellen DeGeneres, Tulane University, 2009

Dick Costolo, Univeristy of Michigan, 2013

Joss Whedon, Wesleyan University

Some great quotes from other speeches:

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Winston Churchill, Harrow School, 1941

Listen once in a while. It’s amazing what you can hear. On a hot summer day in the country you can hear the corn growing, the crack of a tin roof buckling under the power of the sun. In a real old-fashioned parlor silence so deep you can hear the dust settling on the velveteen settee, you might hear the footsteps of something sinister gaining on you, or a heart-stoppingly beautiful phrase from Mozart you haven’t heard since childhood, or the voice of somebody — now gone — whom you loved. Or sometime when you’re talking up a storm so brilliant, so charming that you can hardly believe how wonderful you are, pause just a moment and listen to yourself. It’s good for the soul to hear yourself as others hear you, and next time maybe, just maybe, you will not talk so much, so loudly, so brilliantly, so charmingly, so utterly shamelessly foolishly”. Russell Baker, Connecticut College, 1995

“The arc of history is longer than human vision. It bends. We abolished slavery, we granted universal suffrage. We have done hard things before. And every time it took a terrible fight between people who could not imagine changing the rules, and those who said, ‘We already did. We have made the world new.’ The hardest part will be to convince yourself of the possibilities, and hang on.” Barbara Kingsolver, Duke

“Of all your attributes— youth, beauty, wit, kindness, mercy— courage is your greatest achievement.”—Maya Angelou, Bennett College 2007

“Keep in mind that a job is a job is a job. But, a life is something that is just too short. Live a life that you can be happy with.” —Ruth J. Simmons, President of Brown UniversityWashington University 2002

“Find something you love, and be bold enough to go do it. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.” Chris Gardner, Author of ‘The Pursuit of Happyness‎’—UC Berkeley 2007

“Know your true self. Your true self is not your self-image that is dependent on the labels you and others have given yourself. Your true self is the innermost core of your being that is beyond all labels, definitions and limitations. All the wisdom traditions tell us that the human spirit is a field of infinite possibilities, a field of infinite creativity, love, compassion, joy and profound equanimity. Know you can only give to the world that which you possess in that innermost core of your being. Remember that you will create peace only when you are peaceful and create a loving world only when you have learned to love.” Deepak Chopra,, Hartwick College 2013

“Your diploma is not a ticket to show off what you know. It’s permission to admit to yourself how much you still have yet to learn.”Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, Rice University

“Don’t buy society’s definition of success. Because it’s not working for anyone. It’s not working for women, it’s not working for men, it’s not working for polar bears, it’s not working for the cicadas that are apparently about to emerge and swarm us. It’s only truly working for those who make pharmaceuticals for stress, diabetes, heart disease, sleeplessness and high blood pressure.”Arianna Huffington, Smith College

“Well it’s true. I am myself a storyteller, and therefore, an optimist — a firm believer in the ethical bend of the human heart; a believer in the mind’s appetite for truth and its disgust with fraud and selfishness. From my point of view, your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny. From my point of view, your life is already artful — waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.” Toni Morrison, Rutgers

You must reach back and pull someone up. You must bend down and let someone else stand on your shoulders so that they can see a brighter future.”—Michelle Obama, University of California 2009

Some great articles

10 things your commencement speaker wont tell you.

8 Best Success Tips from the 2013 Commencement Speeches

want to check some more:

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