Leadership 2 min read

These Words Have Moved Mountains

Check out five graduation speeches that inform, inspire and motivate.

At this time of year, high schools and colleges invite the best and brightest speakers to inspire their graduates. Often, commencement speeches are filled with cliche advice. But there are a few standouts that have not only inspired one graduate class, but generations of aspiring professionals.

We’ve listed our favorites below.

1. Steve Jobs - “How To Live Before You Die,” Stanford University, 2005

The CEO and Co-Founder of Apple and Pixar encourages us to pursue our dreams, value the imagination, and appreciate our successes and failures.

2. First Lady Michelle Obama - City College of New York, 2016

Marked as Michelle Obama’s last address as the First Lady, this commencement speech give valuable insight on being a contributing citizen in a multicultural society and fighting for what’s right.

3. David Foster Wallace - “This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life,” Kenyon College, 2005

Three years prior to his untimely death by suicide, David Foster Wallace gave an incredibly powerful speech emphasizing the true value of education is to be able to be empathetic, conscious, and a “well-adjusted” adult. After his death, his speech was published as an essay in the Wall Street Journal and republished as a book.

4. Professor Angela Davis - Pitzer College, 2012

Davis explains to Pitzer graduates how our defeats and failures can turn into triumphs and how to change the world from oppression.

5. JK Rowling - Harvard University, 2008

Rowling, one of the most successful writers of our generation, encourages graduates to live fearlessly and embrace failure along the way.


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