We've once again made a list of our favorite college commencement speeches this year, and we hope that you gain some inspiration from these wise words. Enjoy!
Abby Wambach at Barnard University
• Here’s something the best athletes understand, but seems like a hard concept for non-athletes to grasp. Non-athletes don’t know what to do with the gift of failure. So they hide it, pretend it never happened, reject it outright—and they end up wasting it. Listen: Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to be POWERED by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.
• Here’s what’s important. You are allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life’s benched you. What you aren’t allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench.
• Because the most important thing I've learned is that what you do will never define you. Who you are always will.
Chadwick Boseman at Howard University
• When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you need to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.
• I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that’s ultimately proven to have more victory, more glory, then you will not regret it. This is your time.
Chance the Rapper at Dillard University
• We have to erase the fear and stigma behind eclipsing our heroes... We have a responsibility to be not as good as them or live up to their example but surpass them. Even when it seems scary we have to overcome that fear and be greater than our role models.
• The highest form of respect that we can pay to the people who came before us is to be better than them… To simply copy them would be an insult to their sacrifice… You do a disservice trying to live up to your ancestors, you have to outlive them.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Harvard University
• At no time has it felt as urgent as now that we must protect and value the truth.
• It is hard to tell ourselves the truth about our failures, our fragilities, our uncertainties. It is hard to tell ourselves that maybe we haven’t done the best that we can. It is hard to tell ourselves the truth of our emotions, that maybe what we feel is hurt rather than anger, that maybe it is time to close the chapter of a relationship and walk away, and yet, when we do, we are the better off for it.
• Be courageous enough to say "I don’t know."
Hillary Clinton at Yale University
• Personal resilience is important, but it’s not the only form of resilience we need right now. We also need community resilience. We need to try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and to return to rational debate; to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable.
• To try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and to return to rational debate, to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable, to try to recapture a sense of community and common humanity.
Jim Cramer at Bucknell University
• My defeat had yielded to victory. First lesson: it's OK to fail, but it is not OK to quit. You have more strength within you, both physical and mental, than you know, but use it more wisely than I did, please.
• Your classmates are your safety net, these warm souls of the Class of 2018 surrounding you, those who shared classes, or dorms or sororities, or fraternities or service work or clubs and teams with you. Remember there your stumble is just a pothole in the road for your seated neighbors to help you fill.
Mindy Kaling at Dartmouth College
• I was not someone who should have the life I have now, and yet I do. I was sitting in the chair you are literally sitting in right now and I just whispered, “Why not me?” And I kept whispering it for seventeen years; and here I am, someone that this school deemed worthy enough to speak to you at your commencement. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: Why not you? You made it this far.
Oprah Winfrey at University of Southern California
• The problem is everyone is meeting hysteria with more hysteria, and we just are all becoming hysterical. And it's getting worse. What I've learned in all these years is that we're not supposed to match it or even get locked into resisting or pushing against it. We're supposed to see this moment in time for what it is. We're supposed to see through it and transcend it. That is how you overcome hysteria, and that is how you overcome the sniping at one another, the trolling, the mean spirited partisanship on both sides of the aisle, the divisiveness, the injustices, the out and out hatred. You use it. Use this moment to encourage you to embolden you and to literally push you into the rising of your life.
Ronan Farrow at Loyola Marymount University
• You will face a moment in your career where you have absolutely no idea what to do. Where it will be totally unclear to you what the right thing is for you, for your family, for your community, and I hope that in that moment you’ll be generous with yourself, but trust that inner voice. Because more than ever we need people to be guided by their own senses of principle—and not the whims of a culture that prizes ambition, and sensationalism, and celebrity, and vulgarity, and doing whatever it takes to win.
Tim Cook at Duke University
• Fearlessness means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where it will take you. It means being driven by a higher purpose, rather than by applause. It means knowing that you reveal your character when you stand apart, more than when you stand with the crowd. If you step up, without fear of failure… if you talk and listen to each other, without fear of rejection… if you act with decency and kindness, even when no one is looking, even if it seems small or inconsequential, trust me, the rest will fall into place.