Graduation Speech Archive

graduation speeches archive imagination illustration I have been collecting commencement addresses with inspirational quotes for the past nine years now and when I talk about my passion for collecting graduation speeches people often ask me which one is my favorite. I tell them I have over 150 best speeches. It might sound hard to believe but truly, each and every one of these speeches has beautifully crafted words of advice and touching stories.

Commencement speeches have been known to be boring and I am the first one to agree, knowing all too well that to put together this collection I have read probably more than 1,000 platitude peppered speeches. Luckily, you can skip the boring ones and instead use this collection and take the plunge: be inspired, come along for the ride, and bask in this timeless advice.

Commencement Speaker Year InstitutionID
MARIA POPOVA
Founder of Brainpickings.com
2016 Annenberg School of Communications 212
DONOVAN LIVINGSTON
Student Speaker
2016 Harvard University 211
WILLIAM FOEGE
Epidemiologist
2016 Emory University 210
RITA DOVE
Poet
2016 University of Virginia 209
HANK AZARIA
Actor
2016 Tufts University 208
ELIZABETH WARREN
US Senator
2016 Suffolk University 207
JOHN GREEN
Best-selling Author
2016 Kenyon College 206
KENNETH KOSIK
Professor of Neuroscience, MD
2016 UC Santa Barbara 205
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
Actor, Playwright, Composer
2016 U Penn 204
STEVEN SPIELBERG
Oscar Winning Movie Director
2016 Harvard 203
SHERYL SANDBERG
Businesswoman and Author
2016 UC Berkeley 202
RUSSELL WILSON
NFL Football Quarterback Player
2016 University of Wisconsin-Madison 201
LAWRENCE KASDAN
Screenwriter
1990 University of Michigan 200
LEONARD NIMOI
Actor
2012 Boston U. College of Fine Arts 199
ERIC CARLE
Author and Illustrator
2007 Bates College 197
EUGENE MIRMAN
Comedian
2009 Lexington High School 196
GLORIA STEINEM
Activist and Author
2015 Bennington College 195
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
Actor
2015 University of Houston 194
JON BON JOVI
Singer-Songwriter
2015 Rutgers University 193
NATALIE PORTMAN
Oscar-winning Actress
2015 Harvard University 192
PETER HOLLENS
Singer-Songwriter
2015 University of Oregon 191
JACK BLACK
Actor
2015 Montverde Academy Class 190
IAN BRENNAN
Creator of Glee
2015 Loyola University Chicago 189
BROOKE SHIELDS
Actress
2015 Fashion Institute of Technology 188
CODY KEENAN
President Obama's Speechwriter
2015 NYU’s Graduate School of Public Service 187
ROBERT DE NIRO
Actor
2015 Tisch School or Arts 186
DAVID BROOKS
Author
2015 Dartmouth College 185
CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
Author
2015 Wellesley College 184
NEIL DEGRASSE
Astrophysicist
2015 UMass Amherst 183
STEPHEN COLBERT
Comedian and Author
2015 Wake-Forest University 182
JIMMY BUFFETT
Singer-Songwriter
2015 University of Miami 181
MARY KARR
Poet and Author
2015 Syracuse University 180
RON SUSKIND
Journalist and Author
2015 Lewis & Clark College 179
DENZEL WASHINGTON
Actor
2015 Dillard University 178
ED HELMS
Actor and Comedian
2015 University of Virginia 177
JASON KILAR
Founding CEO of Hulu
2015 Univ. of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 176
DAVID CARR
NYT Columnist and Author
2014 Univ. of California at Berkely School of Journalistm 175
EMIR KAMENICA
Professor of Economics
2014 Shepherd University 174
VICTOR HWANG
Venture Capitalist and Enterpreneur
2014 Austin Community College 173
PAUL HAMER
English Professor
2007 Park Tudor School 172
SARAH HEIDT
Professor of English
2010 Kenyon College 171
GARRISON KEILLOR
Author and Radio Personality
170
MAIRA KALMAN
Artist and Illustrator
2013 Rhode Island School of Design 169
SHERYL SANDBERG
Technology Executive, Author
2014 Harvard 168
JOYCE DIDONATO
Mezzo-soprano
2014 Juilliard School 167
ALEXIS OHANIAN
Reddit Co-founder
2014 Carthage College 166
MINDY KALING
Comedian
2014 Harvard Law School Class Day 165
JAY LENO
Comedian
2014 Emerson College 164
MARTIN SCORSESE
Movie Director
2014 NYU Tisch School of Arts 163
TERRY GROSS
Radio Personality
2014 Bryn Mawr College 162
ED HELMS
Actor
2014 Cornell University 161
ALEX SMITH
NFL Quarterback
2014 University of Utah 160
DIANA NYAD
Long Distance Swimmer
2014 Middlebury College 159
CHARLIE DAY
Actor
2014 Merrimack College 158
DANIEL PINK
Author
2014 Weinberg College 157
ZADIE SMITH
Acclaimed Novelist
2014 New School University 156
BILL & MELINDA GATES
Philanthropists
2014 Stanford University 155
ZOKETSU NORMAN FISCHER
Zen Buddhist Priest and Poet
2014 Stanford University 154
JOHN LEGEND
Singer-songwriter
2014 University of Pennsylvania 153
JENNIFER LEE
"Frozen" Screenwriter and Director
2014 University of New Hampshire 152
MARY CARILLO
Sportscaster and Former Professional Tennis Player
2014 Elon University 151
JIM CARREY
Actor
2014 Maharishi University of Management 150
ADM. MCRAVEN
Naval Admiral
2014 Univ. of Texas, Austin 149
SHONDA RHIMES
TV Producer and Writer
2014 Dartmouth College 148
SANDRA BULLOCK
Oscar Winning Actress
2014 Warren Easton Charter School 147
JON LOVETT
Former Presidential Speechwriter
2013 Pitzer College 146
TRACY CHEVALIER
Best-selling Historical Fiction Novelist
2013 Oberlin College 145
DREW HOUSTON
CEO of Dropbox
2013 MIT 144
ABIGAIL WASHBURN
Clawhammer Banjo Player and Singer
2012 Colorado College 143
GEORGE SAUNDERS
Author of NYT Best Seller Book and Professor
2013 Syracuse University 142
WADE DAVIS
Canadian Anthropologist and Ethnobotanist
2013 Colorado College 141
JIMMY IOVINE
Music Producer
2010 University of Southern California 140
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
Author and Columnist
2013 Smith College139
TIM MINCHIN
Musician and Comedian
2013 University of Western Australia138
JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER
Award Winning Novelist
2013 Middlebury College137
SUSAN SONTAG
Author, Professor, Filmmaker
2003 Vassar College136
BILL COLLINS
Poet
2013 Colorado College135
LEWIS BLACK
Comedian
2013 Thurgood Marshall College of UCSD134
BEN BERNANKE
Economist
2011 Princeton University133
JAMES CARVILLE
Political Commentator
2013 Hobart and William Smith Colleges132
ED HELMS
Actor and Comedian
2013 Knox College131
ERIC IDLE
Mounty Pyton Actor and Comedian
2013 Whitman College 130
WYNTON MARSALIS
Jazz and Classical Musician
2013 University of Vermont 129
JOHN GREEN
Author
2013 Butler University 128
DAVID BROOKS
Author and Journalist
2013 Sewanee University of the South 127
JOSS WHEDON
Screenwriter, Director, Producer
2013 Wesleyan University 126
SHARYN ALFONSI
TV Correspondent
2013 Meek School of Journalism 125
RICHARD COSTOLO
Twitter CEO
2013 University of Michigan 124
STEPHEN COLBERT
Comedian, Author, TV host
2013 University of Virginia 123
JERRY YANG
Co-founder Yahoo! Inc
2009 University of Hawaii 122
BONO
Rockstar
2004 University of Pennsylvania 121
ANDERSON COOPER
Journalist and TV Anchor
2010 Tulane University 120
MIKE JUDGE
Actor adn Producer
2009 UCSD 119
ATUL GAWANDE
Surgeon and Journalist
2012 Williams College 118
JANE LYNCH
Actress
2012 Smith College 117
FRED ARMISEN
Actor
2011 Oregon Episcopal High School 116
DAVID MCCULLOUGH JR.
High School English Teacher
2012 Wellesley High School 115
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
Former US Secretary of State
2007 Wellesley College 114
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
TV host and autho
2012 Wellesley College 113
PETER DINKLAGE
Actor
2012 Bennington College 112
RAY BRADBURY
Author
2000 Caltech 111
WILLIAM CHIU
Student
2012 Halsey Junior High School 110
MICHAEL LEWIS
Non-fiction Author and Financial Journalist
2012 Princeton University Baccalaureate Remarks 109
SANJAY GUPTA
Neurosurgeon and CNN corespondent
2012 University of Michigan 108
ADAM SAVAGE
TV show Co-host of "Mythbusters"
2012 Sarah Lawrence College 107
IRA GLASS
Radio Host of the Show "This American Life"
2012 Goucher College 106
SAL KHAN
Founder of the Khan Academy
2012 MIT 106
AARON SORKIN
Producer and Screenwriter
2012 Syracuse University 104
BENNO SCHMIDT
Interim President of the Kauffman Foundation
2012 Henry W. Bloch School of Management University of Missouri 103
NEIL GAIMAN
Author of Short Stories, Comic Books and Graphic Novels
2012 The University of the Arts in Philadelphia 102
JIM STEEN
College Swim Coach
2011 Kenyon College 101
SHERYL SANDBER
Businesswoman, Chief Financial Officer, Facebook
2011 Barnard College 100
NORA EPHRON
Author, Screenwriter and Movie Director
1996 Wellesley 99
STEPHEN COLBERT
Writer, comedian and TV host
2011 Northwestern University 98
MARIAN FONTANTA
Founder of the 9-11 Families Association
2006 Massachussets School of Law 97
DAVID COTE
Businessman, President and CEO of Honeywell
2011 University of New Hampshire, 96
AMY POEHLER
Actress
2011 Harvard College Class Day Address 95
SERGIO MARCHIONNE
CEO of Chrysler Group
2011 University of Toledo 94
ARRIANNA HUFFINGTON
Author and Syndicated Columnist
2011 Sarah Lawrence College 93
KIRK SCHNEIDER
Phychologist
2013 San Francisco State University 92
DENZEL WASHINGTON
Actor
2011 University of Pennsylvania 91
JOE PLUMERI
CEO of the Willis Group
2011 William & Mary 90
STEVE BALLMER
Microsoft CEO
2011 University of Southern California 89
DAVID BROOKS
NYT columnist and author
2011 Rice University in Houston 88
MEHMET OZ
Surgeon and TV Show Host
2011 West Chester University 87
CONAN O'BRIEN
Comedian and TV Show Host
2011 Darmouth College 86
CHRIS WADDELL
Most decorated male skier in Paralympic history
2011 Middlebury College 85
JULIA KELLER
Pulitzer Prize winner author
2010 Dominican University 84
BIZ STONE
Twitter Co-founder
2011 Babson College 83
STEVE BLANK
Silicon Valley Entrepreneur
2011 Philadelphia University 82
TERRY TEACHOUT
Author, drama and cultural critic
2011 Hamilton Holt School 81
CORY BOOKER
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
2010 Pitzer College 80
RICHARD RUSSO
Author, Professor of English
2004 Colby College 79
TOM BRINCK
User Experience Designer
2011 Art Institute of California 78
OMID KORDESTANI
Senior Advisor, Office of the CEO and Founders of Google
2007 San Jose State University 77
ANTHONY CORVINO
Undergraduate Student
2009 Binghamton University 76
LISA KUDROW
Actress
2010 Vassar College, 75
BOBBY KNIGHT
College Basketball Coach,
2010 Trine University 74
ROBERT RODRIGUEZ
Screenwriterr
2009 University of Texas at Austin 73
ROGER GOODELL
NFL Commissioner
2010 UMass-Lowell 72
JAMIE HYNEMAN
Co-host of the Discovery Channel's series MythBusters
2010 Villanova University 71
JULLIANNA MARGUILIES
Actress
2010 Sarah Lawrence College 70
MERYL STREEP
Oscar Winning Actress
2010 Barnard College 69
RACHEL MADDOW
Political Commentator
2010 Smith College 68
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
Actor and politician (the 38th Governor of California)
2009 University of Southern California 67
SUMMER REDSTONE
Chairman of Viacom
2002 Kellogg Business School 66
GABRIELLE GIFFORD
U.S. Congresswoman (D-AZ)
2013 Scripps College 65
TIM COOK
Businessman
2010 Auburn University 64
W. DOUGLAS SMITH
Environmental diplomat for the U.N.
2010 DeVry University, 63
RAHM EMANUEL
Former White House Chief of Staff
2009 George Washington University 62
ANGELA AHRENDTS
CEO of Burberry
2010 May 8th, 2010 61
CHRIS GARDNER
Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker
2009 UC Berkley 60
POROCHISTA KHAKPOUR
Professor and Author
2010 Desert Academy 59
ZUBIN DAMANIA
Medical Doctor
1999 UCSF 58
CARLY FIORINA
Businesswoman, Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
2000 MIT 57
MIKE TOMLIN
Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach
2008 Saint Vincent College 56
BRIAN J. DYSON
Businessman, Former CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises
1996 Georgia Tech 55
ELIAS A. ZERHOUNI
Director of NIH
2004 Massachusettes Institute of Technology 54
JOHN JACOB SCHERER
Author/Entrepreneur
2013 Wesleyan 53
SUE MONK KIDD
Author
2013 Scripps College in Claremont 52
TONY SNOW
Former White House Press Secretary
2007 The Catholic University of America 51
JEFF BEZOS
Businessman, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com
2010 Princeton University 50
FAREED ZAKARIA
Journalist and Author
2009 Bates College 49
MICHAEL DELL
Chairman and CEO of Dell Computer
2003 University of Texas at Austin 48
DAVID BROOKS
Journalist
2007 Wake Forest University 47
MEREDITH VIEIRA
Journalist and TV host
2008 Tufts University 46
JONATHAN YOUSHAEI
High School Graduate Speaker
2004 Deerfiel High School 45
MERYL STREEP
Actress
1983 Vassar College 44
ANNE LAMOTT
Writer
2003 University of California at Berkeley 43
JON STEWART
Comedian
2004 The College of William & Marry 42
ELLEN DEGENERES
Actress
2009 Tulane University 41
CARL SAGAN
Astronomer
1996 NA 40
RANDY PAUSCH
Computer Science Professor
2008 Carnegie Mellon 39
MARISSA MAYER
VP at Google Inc.
2009 llinois Institute of Technology 38
JOE PATERNO
Football Coach
1973 Penn State 37
PAUL HAWKEN
Environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist
2009 University of Portland 36
LARRY BOCK
Businesmann
2007 U. of California, Berkeley College of Chemistry 34
JESSICA LANGE
Actress, two times Academy Award winner
2008 Sarah Lawrence College 33
LARRY LUCCHINO
Businesmann, Boston Red Sox President
2008 Boston University 32
J.K. ROWLING
Author of the Harry Potter fantasy series
2008 Harvard University 31
JOHN MACKEY
Actress
2009 Tulan 30
KATIE COURIC
Journalist, anchor and editor of the CBS Evening News
2007 Williams College 29
BRADLEY WHITFORD
Film and television Actor
2004 University of Wisconsin 28
BRIAN KENNY
Sportscaster for ESPN
2007 Ohio Northen University 27
RAY SIDNEY
Businessman
2007 Edwin O. Smith High School 26
BILL WATTERSON
Cartoonist, author of the popular comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes"
1990 Kenyon College 25
OPRAH WINFREY
Multi-award winning talk show host, actress, producer and philantropist
2007 Howard University 24
PAUL GLASER
Actor and Director
2004 Stanford School of Medicine 23
WOODY HAYES
Ohio State footbal coach from 1957 to 1978
1996 Ohio State University 22
GUY KAWASAKI
Entrepreneur, author, and columnist
2000 Babson College 21
ALAN ALDA
Actor, director, and screenwriter
1980 Connecticut College 20
CHRIS MATTHEW
American news anchor and political commentator
2006 Fordham University 19
MICHAEL USLAN
Movie producer, originator of the Batman movies
2006 Indiana University 18
RUTH WESTHEIMERS
Professor, media psychologist
2004 Trinity College University 17
MARGARET SPEELINGS
Former U.S. Secretary of Education (2005-09)
2006 Montgomery College 16
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE
Influential author, Professor at Pomona College, CA
2005 Kenyon College 15
STEVE JOBS
Former CEO of Apple Computers
2005 Stanford University 14
MARK S. LEWIS
Professor, clinical psychology
2000 University of Texas 13
DAVID L. CALHOUN
Businessman
2005 Virginia Tech 12
BILLIE JEAN KING
Professional tennis player, winner of 12 Grand Slam single titles
2000 University of Massachusetts 11
JEAN ANDREWS
Marine scientist and artist
2003 University of Texas at Austin 10
MURIEL SIEBERT
Businesswoman
1998 Case Western Reserve 09
JOHN WALSH
Author and art historian
2000 Wheaton College 08
ANNA QUINDLEN
Pulitzer Prize winning author
2000 Villanova University 07
DOUGH MARLETTE
Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist
2005 Durham Academy 06
SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Pullitzer Prize winner playwright and screenwriter
2001 Mount Holyoke 05
EARL BAKKEN
Businessman
2004 University of Hawaii 04
DAVID WOODLE
Businessman
2001 Penn State University 03
JERRY ZUCKER
Director, movie producer
2003 University of Wisconsin 02
YVONNE THORTON
Physician and Pulitzer prize nominated author
2003 Tuskegee University 01


You May Also Like:

How to Write A Graduation Speech


"As long as you are alive, it is never too late."

- John Mackey

Bookmark and Share


COMMENCEMENT BEST SPEAKERS GRADUATION QUOTES
Top 10 Speeches
Best Speeches by Year
Graduation Advice
Speech Writing Help
Archive: All Speeches

Business
Entertainment
Media
Arts
Sports
Science
Technology
Politics

Best Quotes
Top 15 Themes
Funny Quotes
2014 Graduation
Graduation Sketchnotes

HOME  |  CONTACT