6 Powerful Quotes from Famous Commencement Day Speakers
Between walking across the stage, celebrating with friends, and receiving your diploma, sometimes it’s hard to remember the words of wisdom a commencement speaker shares on graduation day. However, it may be easier to take note of an important quote if it comes from your favorite author, actress, or comedian.
From Lin-Manuel Miranda to Mindy Kaling, there are a multitude of celebrities who have delivered memorable commencement addresses throughout the past few years. Keep reading for some of the most inspirational quotes celebrities have offered during graduation ceremonies at colleges across the country.
Abby Wambach at Barnard College
Last year, this soccer champion and activist took to the stage to deliver the keynote address to Barnard’s Class of 2018 at Radio City Music Hall. As part of her speech, Wambach stated, “…Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be powered by. Failure is the highest-octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make your failure fuel”.
Pharrell Williams at New York University
In the spring of 2017, this rapper and record producer spoke during the commencement ceremonies at NYU, where he has also served as a professor and artist-in-residence. During his address, he encourages students to make a difference by reminding the audience to “Engage and inspire—whether on an individual level or loudly within your communities. Be humble, but not too humble. Don’t be invisible”.
Lin-Manuel Miranda at the University of Pennsylvania
Miranda is best known for creating “Hamilton”, but in the spring of 2016 he starred in a very different kind of performance, UPenn’s graduation ceremony. During his address, he spoke directly to first generation graduates and students that overcame adversity. He is quoted as saying “I know many of you made miracles happen to get to this day…I know because my family made miracles happen for me to be standing here, talking to you, telling stories. Your stories are essential”.
Mindy Kaling at Dartmouth College
Kaling is best known for her comedic work, yet her speech at Dartmouth, her alma mater, can best be described as inspirational. After weaving in some jokes about current events and her own time on campus, Kaling told graduates, “I am not someone who should have the life I have now, and yet I do. I sat in the chair you are sitting in right now and I whispered ‘Why not me?’ and I kept whispering it for the past 17 years.”
Kerry Washington at George Washington University
Six years ago, Washington graced the stage at George Washington University’s graduation ceremony to remind the audience that each and every voice matters. She said “You and you alone are the only person who can live the life that writes the story that you were meant to tell. And the world needs your story because the world needs your voice. Every single one of you.”
Chadwick Boseman at Howard University
Last year, the Black Panther star chose to address his alma mater, Howard University, and used the opportunity to remind graduates of the importance of purpose. Boseman is quoted as saying “Purpose is the essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”
Whether are you receiving your diploma in a few days or a few years, these quotes can be a great reminder to work hard towards achieving your goals. If gaining admission to a best-fit college is on this aspiration list, our team of expert counselors can help guide your through this process.