learn. from commencement speeches.

This post is dedicated to these and many other amazing graduates. Class of 2011 – Stand and denote!

It’s the time of year when ceremony marks the end of something past and the beginning of something new. The time of year when students everywhere have completed their studies (for now at least) and for that great accomplishment are issued a sheet of paper.

But like a bill or note of currency, this sheet of paper has value. Unlike a bill or note of currency, the value cannot be measured. It represents knowledge, experience, relationship, support, challenges overcome, failures survived, victories celebrated, hope for the future, a dream. For me, the ceremony that marks the handing over of this symbol carries great weight. It is certainly not so weighty that it keeps one from the joy and laughter.

I attended two high school graduations this week, and I was reminded how important the words spoken by fellow classmates and keynote speakers were when I was the one in cap and gown. Therefore, I want to share a few of my favorite commencement speeches (these are like time capsules). I know you don’t have the time to watch them all, but pick one or two for now, and return anytime you need a little inspiration.

To anyone who has ever graduated from something – be it kindergarten or doctoral program – may these be great reminders of what that piece of paper either on your wall in a frame or gathering dust in a box represents. And to the Class of 2011, receive it with humility and hope.

This week, a high school valedictorian opted to sing his speech. He sang “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen.

Some precious preschool graduates sang a song I learned early in life – “I Am A Promise” from Bill & Gloria Gaither’s children’s album, I’m Something Special.

The year I graduated from high school, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” by Mary Schmich was published in the Chicago Tribune. Later the text was made popular by Baz Luhrmann’s recorded version, “Everybody’s Free.” (below)

Because the Former First Lady, Barbara Bush, quoted Ferris Bueller… and made some other pretty inspiring points.

For those who like the story-telling and delivery of Bill Cosby, here is his address to Carnegie Mellon grads in 2007.

Since Oprah signed off the Oprah Winfrey show this week, I’ll include her 2008 commencement address to the Stanford graduates.

For laughs (and a reminder that we were created to live in relationship with one another), here is Amy Poehler at Harvard just a few days ago.

For more great speeches, commencement or otherwise, visit these links.
Graduation Wisdom
American Rhetoric
You Tube


One response to “learn. from commencement speeches.

  • Jan Kennamer Hart


    As always you thoughts and the videos you pick are insightful! I love the picture of you with your girls – it reminds me of the many pictures I have of just like it! Good memories!

    We missed you Tuesday night! Hope you have a great, long weekend. Love you! JKH

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