Commencement speeches have the power to motivate, influence, and inspire students about to embark on the next chapter of their lives. And if anyone can command the attention of a room (or a 10,000 person arena), it’s a seasoned entertainer. Over the years, famous people have been given the chance to galvanize America’s young folk by addressing a graduating class, and the results have been pretty darn impressive. Need some May motivation? These inspirational quotes from celebrity graduation speeches are bound to make you cry, laugh, and get pumped to take on the real world.
1. Will Ferrell, USC (2017)
You hear that, USC grads? You’re sitting in the same chair as Ron Burgundy and he totally believes in you.
2. Meryl Streep, Barnard (2010)
Meryl knows what’s up. Meryl knows what’s important. Listen to Meryl.
3. Mindy Kaling, Harvard Law School (2014)
Of course Mindy Kaling would provide the right balance of heart and humor in her speech. Of course.
4. Stephen Colbert, Wake Forest University (2015)
When in doubt, call out your own generation and call on the next one to make things right.
5. Kerry Washington, George Washington University (2013)
Commencement speech? It’s handled.
6. Amy Poehler, Harvard Class Day (2011)
Leslie Knope would be so proud.
7. Oprah Winfrey, Stanford University (2008)
She also added that she really wanted to give the class cars, but couldn’t pull it off. Great advice from Oprah herself seems sufficient enough, right?!
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