It’s Graduation Season. For just a few weekends, stacked end to end in late spring, a parade of mostly young people, pomp and circumstance their way across stages and grand lawns to receive their hard earned diplomas.
They are hopeful.
For many, this is perhaps the first time they are truly sensing their own stake in the world around them.
Greeting them on that day from the podium is the commencement speaker. Carefully selected for any number of reasons, this is the individual whose job it is send the newly graduated class of students into the world on a well-crafted, personally relevant message.
No small task.
A few highlights from the 2017 commencement speeches this past weekend have already begun to pop up in my feed and this has caused me to start seeking out other commencement speeches of note.
There have been some remarkable and inspiring words shared over the years; I felt compelled to share some of them with you now.
Enjoy! And thanks for reading!
“Summon your compassion, your curiosity, your empathy towards others and your commitment to service. Give more than you receive and I promise you, it will come back to you in ways you can’t possibly imagine.” – Howard Shultz, former Starbucks CEO at Arizona State University, 2017
“If you’re too big for the small job, you’re too small for the big one.” – Katie Couric, American journalist and author at American University, 2014
“So my hope for all of you is that you have been affirmed as valuable during these college years, and that you leave here knowing who you are, what your strengths are, and what your weaknesses are and that the greatest human beings are a marvelous mixture of both.” Madeline L’Engle, American writer at Wesleyan University, 1991
“…you have to be singular, inflexible, unyielding in your own work so that even the struggle, that very struggle to achieve becomes its own reward.” – Martin Scorsese, film director at NYU Tisch School of The Arts
“In the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal.” – Fred Rogers aka television personality “Mr. Rogers” at Dartmouth College in 2002
“We may live in an age of instant messaging, instant gratification and Instagram, but there is no way to short circuit the path to success.” Tory Burch, American fashion designer at Babson College in 2014
“Life is not about warming yourself by the fire, life is about building the fire.” Larry Lucchino, former President, CEO Boston Red Sox at Boston University in 2008
“Don’t go by how the coin flips; go by your emotional reaction to the coin flip. Are you happy or sad it came up heads or tails?” – David Brooks, American political and cultural commentator at Rice University in 2011
“The line of fire racing across time that we call life is burning brightly in all of you at this moment. We celebrate the joy of your achievement, but we must give thanks for all that brought us here. And we must be keenly aware that our stupendous good fortune carries with it an obligation to keep that flame burning brightly into the future for every living thing that is and is yet to be.” – Bradley Whitford, actor at University of Wisconsin Madison in 2004
“Engage and Inspire – whether on an individual level or loudly within your communities. Talk about your accomplishment. Be humble, but not too humble. Don’t be invisible.” – Pharrel Williams, singer/song writer at New York University in 2017
“I don’t believe in luck. I believe in preparation.” – Bobby Knight, retired American basketball coach at Trine University in 2010
“And now go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” – Neil Gaiman, English author at The University of the Arts in 2012