It’s been ice ages since I walked across stage as a graduate. But, whenever I see commencement photos and videos popping up this time of year, I feel like I’m in a flowing polyester gown and cap, too - with pride, hope, and excitement coursing through my veins.
It’s such a special time when you can walk across stage in front of friends and family to cap off (no pun intended) that life-changing journey started years before, filled with great lessons - inside and outside the classroom.
One of my favorite parts of graduation season is hearing commencement speeches from prominent invitees - many of whom impart incredibly heartfelt, motivational wisdom that’s applicable to anyone. So, whether you’re part of The Class of ‘18 or not, here are some quotes from this year’s ceremonies to get your inspiration on.
Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul/Philanthropist
University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism"
"The number one lesson I could offer you where your work is concerned is become so skilled, so vigilant, so flat-out fantastic at what you do that your talent cannot be dismissed."
“When you give your word, keep it. Show up. Do the work. Get your hands dirty. And then you'll begin to draw strength from the understanding that is still being written. You're writing it every day. The wheel’s still in spin. And what you do or what you don't do will be a part of it. You build a legacy not from one thing but from everything."
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
“No big challenge has ever been solved, and no lasting improvement has ever been achieved, unless people dare to try something different. Dare to think different. I was lucky to learn from someone who believed this deeply. Someone who knew that changing the world starts with ‘following a vision, not a path.’ He was my friend and mentor, Steve Jobs. Steve’s vision was that great ideas come from a restless refusal to accept things as they are. And those principles still guide us at Apple today.”
“If you step up, without fear of failure… if you talk and listen to each other, without fear of rejection… if you act with decency and kindness, even when no one is looking, even if it seems small or inconsequential, trust me, the rest will fall into place.”
Amal Clooney, International Human Rights Lawyer
“Be courageous. Challenge orthodoxy. Stand up for what you believe in. When you are in your rocking chair talking to your grandchildren many years from now, be sure you have a good story to tell.”
“There will be moments in your life where two roads diverge in the wood, and when that happens, be courageous.”
Matt Czuchry, Actor
College of Charleston
“We have to accept the unknown challenges in our lives because they are the reality of our lives. Hardships are guaranteed for all of us. But they are not guaranteed to define us.”
“The present moment. That is the only moment in which we are truly alive. And our attitude towards that present moment, whatever the present moment reveals to us, that is what will define us.”
Chadwick Boseman, Actor
"When you ... are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history."
"The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. Press on with pride and press on with purpose."