15 Amazing Commencement Speeches Guaranteed to Inspire

Graduation season – it’s where some of the smartest and most accomplished minds return to college campuses to inspire the youngest crop of graduates as they head into the real world. But you don’t need to be 22 to be inspired; these roadmaps can help give new perspectives and ideas to anyone with an open mind and willingness to change. Here are 15 commencement speeches that are absolutely inspiring.

  1. How to live before you die, Steve Jobs, Stanford University 2005
  2. This is water: David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College 2005
  3. J.K. Rowling’s Harvard University Commencement Speech, 2008
  4. Michael Lewis’ Princeton Commencement Speech, 2008
  5. What matters more than your talents, Jeff Bezos, Harvard University 2010
  6. Stephen Colbert’s Northwestern University Commencement Speech, 2011
  7. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Wellesley College, 2015
  8. Ellen Degeneres at Tulane University, 2009
  9. Patti Smith at Pratt, 2010 (her book, Just Kids, is fantastic as well)
  10. Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth, 2011
  11. Make Good Art, Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts 2010
  12. Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon, 2008
  13. Joss Whedon at Wesleyan, 2013
  14. Debbie Millman at San Jose State University
  15. Kurt Vonnegut, Agnes Scott College, 1999

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