Before graduates pack their bags and head out into the post-college world, they come together for a commencement ceremony — usually just called “graduation.” The commencement speaker is one of the last people to hold an entire class’s attention before its members part ways to begin their careers. Some offer advice, some offer inspiration.
These five graduation speakers comprise two who never graduated from college, a president, a comic and a top executive who advocates for women in the workforce.
Which one do you think was most effective?
Barnard College, 2011
Facebook’s chief operating officer and the author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg speaks of the “fundamental moral challenge” of our century.
“What in the world needs to change, and what part do you plan on playing to change it?”
Knox College, 2008
Comedian Stephen Colbert describes what life has in common with improvisational comedy and how much is gained by saying yes.
“Saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow.”
Stanford University, 2005
Apple founder Steve Jobs, who dropped out of college after six months, reveals to graduates how his public failure led him to the most creative period of his life.
“… the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.”
Belle Haven Community School, 2012
Not all the good advice comes from college graduation speakers. Facebook founder and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg spoke to a graduating class of eighth graders in Menlo Park, California, about the role of hard work and friendships in a successful life.
“It’s not about a single moment of inspiration or brilliance.”
Barnard College, 2012
President Obama celebrates those who shattered myths about what women and immigrants to the U.S. can achieve.
“Think about what that means to a young Latina girl when she sees a Cabinet secretary that looks like her.”