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Top 10 Commencement Speeches

By Cristina Negrut

These are truly inspirational graduation speeches worth reading from the beginning to the end. Since 2010, I also create top ten lists for the best speeches of the year, so if you are looking to find some of the best commencement addresses in the recent past, look no further. Truth be told, I love each and every speech I collected on this site. This is why the top 10 list was really hard to make; I believe you can't go wrong with any of the speeches in the Graduation Wisdom collection, there is something to learn and share from every single commencement speech.

1. STEVE JOBS

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.



Commencement Address at Stanford University, 2005

 


2. JERRY ZUCKER

It doesn't matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping. So get out there and go for it, but don't be caught waiting. It's great to plan for your future. Just don't live there, because really nothing ever happens in the future. Whatever happens happens now, so live your life where the action is ó now.

Commencement Address at University of Wisconsin, 2003

 


3. MARK LEWIS

The person who youíre with most in life is yourself and if you donít like yourself youíre always with somebody you donít like.

Commencement Address at University of Texas Austin, 2000

 


4. DAVID FOSTER WALLACE

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.



Commencement Address at Kenyon Collge 2005

 


5. DAVID MCCULLOUGH JR.

... the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.



Commencement Address at Wellesley High School, 2012

 


6. JOHN WALSH

Do one thing at a time. Give each experience all your attention. Try to resist being distracted by other sights and sounds, other thoughts and tasks, and when it is, guide your mind back to what you're doing."

Commencement Address at Wheaton College, 2000

 


7. MICHAEL USLAN

You must have a high threshold for frustration. Take it from the guy who was turned down by every studio in Hollywood. You must knock on doors until your knuckles bleed. Doors will slam in your face. You must pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and knock again. Itís the only way to achieve your goals in life."

Commencement Address at Indiana University, 2006

 


8. ELLEN DEGENERES

Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that.

 

Commencement Address at Tulane University, 2009

 


9. BRADLEY WITHFORD

Take action. Every story you've ever connected with, every leader you've ever admired, every puny little thing that you've ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life.

Commencement Address at University of Wisconsin, 2004

 


10. WOODY HAYES

...you'll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. As a matter of fact, I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face. Never.

In football we always said that the other team couldn't beat us. We had to be sure that we didn't beat ourselves. And that's what people have to do too -- make sure they don't beat themselves.

Commencement Address at Ohio State University, 1986


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