40 Best Commencement Speeches

40 Best Commencement Speeches
ESSENCE.COM May, 12, 2010

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Words of Wisdom: “This is a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history. We can’t stop these changes, but we can channel them, we can shape them, we can adapt to them. And education is what can allow us to do so. It can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time.”—Hampton University 2010

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Words of Wisdom: “You must reach back and pull someone up. You must bend down and let someone else stand on your shoulders so that they can see a brighter future.”—University of California 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “Believe in something larger than yourself. Make a difference. Live your life so that at the end of your journey, you will know that your time here was well spent.”—Rochester Institute of Technology 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “Of all your attributes— youth, beauty, wit, kindness, mercy— courage is your greatest achievement.”—Bennett College 2007

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Words of Wisdom: “Keep in mind that a job is a job is a job. But, a life is something that is just too short. Live a life that you can be happy with.” —Washington University 2002

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Words of Wisdom: “We need to renew our commitment to the American story. I ask you, out of this crisis, to make a change.”—Tufts University 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “My sisters, the world needs for you not only to do the work that men have traditionally done —you must do it in new and in better ways.”—Mount Holyoke College 1998

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Words of Wisdom: “Although you will never fully know or successfully manipulate the characters who surface or disrupt your plot, you can respect the ones who do by paying them close attention and doing them justice.”—Wellesley College 2004

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Words of Wisdom: “The difference between ordinary and intellect is time. If you learn how to say, ‘No’ it will save you a lot of time.”—Wheelock College, 2007

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Words of Wisdom: “Hang on to that dream, hang on to those goals. Be committed, be persistent, and you will get there.” —University of Tampa 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “Lincoln University’s legacy is a clear lesson of struggle and progress, and let the nation count on you to move us forward.”—Lincoln University, 2008

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Words of Wisdom: “You see, education is transformational. It literally changes lives. That is why people work so hard to become educated. And that is why education has always been the key to the American dream.”
-Boston College 2006

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Words of Wisdom: “Freedom is the most meaningful to those who have not always been able to enjoy it. Education is the most important ingredient of freedom.”—Virginia State University 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “I call upon you to work tirelessly to anchor the United States firmly to the course of internationalism, to its historic mission as an agent of progressive change.”—Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1997

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Words of Wisdom: “Find something you love, and be bold enough to go do it. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.” —UC Berkeley 2007

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Words of Wisdom: “The challenge now, as you enter the workforce, is to find the right balance between pursuing your career goals and giving back to your community.” —American University 2005

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Words of Wisdom: “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on the battle field. You have to be courageous to be a free-thinker and go against the grain.” —Spelman College 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “Don’t allow yourselves to be affected by the cynicism of oldies like us. Dream, dream, dream of a world that is going to be without terror.”—University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “Do the right thing by setting your own internal standards of excellence, your own internal standards of behavior, and making sure that you meet them and exceed them.”—Wake Forest University 2004

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Words of Wisdom: “You drink deeply from wells of freedom that you did not dig. The primary choice, I believe, of your life is to accept the conditions as they exist or to accept the responsibility for changing them.”—Brandeis College 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “There is no free lunch in life. Set thoughtful goals and work quietly and systematically towards them. Assign yourself. Listen for the genuine within yourself.”—Muhlenberg College 2008

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Words of Wisdom: “Set your sites beyond the careers that seem to offer the greatest financial reward to the ones that will reward your soul and enrich our world.”—Columbia University 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “If you really want to fly, just harness your power to your passion. Honor your calling. Everybody has one. Trust your heart and success will come to you.”—Stanford University 2008

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Words of Wisdom: “Soul is about authenticity. Soul is about finding things in your life that are real and pure, the things that you know are at your core, the things you were put on this earth to do, the moments when sound and silence come together.”—University Pennsylvania 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “Don’t talk yourself into not being you. Be sure of yourselves, be proud. But you can’t be proud and you can’t carry it out unless you are sure of yourself and prepared. That’s where the nerds stand tall!”—Carnegie Mellon University 2007

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Words of Wisdom: “There are so many people who want to weigh in on your life and define success for you, but you have to follow your own heart. Don’t worry about finding a job, find your passion — there are a zillion paths to success.”—Cornell University 2007

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Words of Wisdom: “Along the way, if you are smart and aware, you learn from the inevitable mistakes and miscalculations. The occasional missteps need not define you. That’s part of continuing education too.”-Georgetown University 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “At some point, we who are privileged to have an education and fortunate enough to know better, have to step forward and accept if not some blame for the plight of our own, than at least a modicum of responsibility.”-–Howard University 2001

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Words of Wisdom: “Maybe with all our force, all our conviction, all our humility, all our understanding, we can make something get done.”—Utah State University 2010

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Words of Wisdom: “Let us not ask ‘What’s goin’ on in America?’ But rather, ‘what is my role in making this world a better place for all of our sisters and brothers.’”—Iowa State University 2008

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Words of Wisdom: “Obama didn’t come out of a vacuum and you don’t come out of a vacuum either. Don’t you forget to contribute to a struggle, that you think is over — it ain’t over.”—Paul Quinn College 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “The old guard has held on to power and is not willing to let you in until they are sure you’re willing to spend a lifetime of service.”—University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “No matter how fast one runs or how smart one is, there will be many times when we need to draw that sustenance, inspiration, and guidance from others.”—American University 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “This world truly does require your help. It requires your ears. It requires your pausing a moment before you get flippant with somebody. You’ve got to pause.”—Wellesley College 2002

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Words of Wisdom: "I love America, I believe in the promise. Like with civil rights, eventually our nation once again will get it right.”—Florida International University 2010

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Words of Wisdom: “We must never assume it will be an easy road and be ready to accept defeats without giving up or losing our vision and caring about people.”—Trinity University 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “The promising truth is that we can change the fate of those less fortunate than us, if we work together.”—University of Georgia 2008

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Words of Wisdom: “There is no greater tool for increasing economic opportunity than education.”—Strayer University 2009

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Words of Wisdom: “However hard the road, however difficult today, tomorrow things will be better. Tomorrow may not be better, but we must believe that it will be.”—Morehouse College 1940

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“This is always the danger and the tragedy of segregation, it not only harms one physically, but it scars the soul and distorts the personality.”—Morgan State College 1958

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Words of Wisdom:

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Words of Wisdom: “I had to learn very early not to limit myself due to others’ limited imaginations. I have learned these days never to limit anyone else due to my limited imagination.”-Stanford University 1996

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