Commencement is a special time, as it’s every graduating senior’s last chance to savor their time in college, and to embrace their futures ahead. It’s also a chance to hear a great speech, and here are some of the better ones throughout the years:
1. Steve Jobs. Speaking to Stanford University’s graduating class of 2005, the legendary mind behind Apple talked about the importance of ambition and bravery in everyday life.
Remarkable quote: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
2. Ellen DeGeneres. Always getting a laugh, Ellen spoke to Tulane University in 2009, and urged them to embrace their individual passions.
Remarkable quote: “Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that.”
3. Stephen Colbert. Colbert is one of the funniest personalities in the media today, but that doesn’t mean he can’t impart some wisdom every once in a while. The proof? This 20 minute long speech at Northwestern University in 2011.
Remarkable quote: “Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along…And we didn’t have cell phones. If you made plans to meet someone in a snow storm, and if they didn’t show up, you just had to assume they were devoured by wolves and go on with your life.”
4. Amy Poehler. In 2011, Amy Poehler gave a heartfelt speech to Harvard University’s class of 2011. Though she’s typically light-hearted, she gave some stern advice, urging students to be completely present both in their lives and in the lives of others.
Remarkable quote: “I cannot stress enough that the answer to a lot of your life’s questions is often in someone else’s face. Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people’s faces.”
5. Barack Obama. Just this past year, President Obama gave a rousing speech at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts school in New York, and because he’s, well, the president, it was nothing short of great.
Remarkable quote: “Because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher. I’ve seen your passion and I’ve seen your service…I’ve seen a generation eager—impatient event—to step into the rushing waters of history and change its course.”