In recent weeks, college graduates nationwide have accepted their diplomas, bidding adieu to their academic years as they embark upon the world beyond. But not before listening to a classic commencement speech about the time behind them and advice for the journey ahead.
Below is a handful of some of those pearls of wisdom.
Most likely to speak the truth: Comedian Stephen Colbert, Wake Forest University
“You are your own professor now, which I know is a little creepy, because that means you’re showering with your professor. But you have tenure. They can’t fire you.”
Most likely to be diplomatic: Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Tufts University
“The future depends not on the stars or some mysterious forces of history; but rather on the decisions that you make – and I truly, truly mean that. You are the leaders of tomorrow, and it will be your job to pick up the baton so often mishandled by the leaders of yesterday and today.”
Most likely to reference history: Documentarian Ken Burns, Washington University, St. Louis
“It is into this disorienting and sometimes disappointing world that you now plummet, I’m afraid, unprotected from the shelter of family and school. You have fresh prospects and real dreams and I wish each and every one of you the very best. But I am drafting you now into a new Union Army that must be committed to preserving the values, the sense of humor, the sense of cohesion that have long been a part of our American nature, too. You have no choice, you’ve been called up, and it is your difficult, but great and challenging responsibility to help change things and set us right again.”
Most likely to improvise: Comedian Maya Rudolph, Tulane University
“Say ‘yes, and.’ And create your own destiny. Hold on to your old friends. Kiss your mama. Admit what your dreams are. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re gonna do tomorrow, but work hard and don’t be lazy. And put away your damn iPhone once in a while.”
NOTE: Rudolph ended her speech with a four-minute Beyonce-inspired version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Most likely to use an iPhone: Apple CEO Tim Cook, The George Washington University
“No matter what you do next, the world needs your energy. Your passion. Your impatience with progress. Don’t shrink from risk. And tune out those critics and cynics. History rarely yields to one person, but think, and never forget, what happens when it does. That can be you. That should be you. That must be you.”
Most likely to mention the State of the Union: President of the United States of America Barack Obama, Coast Guard Academy
“Class of 2015, you’ve built new equipment that uses less energy. You’ve designed new vessels with fewer harmful emissions. Stephen Horvath, selected as a Fulbright Scholar, will research new technologies for renewable energies. The Coast Guard is building more fuel-efficient cutters. So you’re already leading. And, Cadets, as you go forward, I challenge you to keep imagining and building the new future we need — and make your class motto your life’s work: ‘To go where few dare.’ This is a place where we need you.”
What’s your advice for the Class of 2015? Leave it below in the comments.