Top 10 Graduation Speeches of All Time

Let these top commencement speeches encourage you to keep doing what you love, and don’t let fear hold you back.

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Talented speakers have graced the stages of college graduations, reflecting back on their experiences to impart knowledge onto graduates. Here are ten of the top graduation speeches.

1. Steve Jobs — Stanford University, 2005


Video courtesy of The Apple History Channel

The founder of Apple reminded graduates to keep faith and trust that life’s dots will connect down the road.

2. J.K. Rowling — Harvard University, 2008


Video courtesy of Harvard Magazine

While you can choose to live cautiously, the author recognized that you’ll still fail by default, as failure is important to your growth.

3. Maya Angelou — Spelman College, 1992


Video courtesy of Spelman College

The author and poet encouraged graduates to carry those who have loved you with you to build confidence in yourself.

4. Jeff Bezos — Princeton University, 2010


Video courtesy of Princeton Academics

How will you use your gifts? The CEO and founder of Amazon explained that gifts are easy, and it is your choices that help you build a great life story.

5. Oprah Winfrey — Harvard University, 2013


Video courtesy of Harvard University

The talk show host focused on the importance of finding your inner light and building a resume of purpose.

6. John F. Kennedy — American University, 1963


Video courtesy of HelmerReenberg

Realize the possibility of peace. The president encouraged graduates to seek out common interests we share as humans.

7. Sheryl Sandberg — Barnard College, 2011


Video courtesy of barnardcollege

Aim high and challenge yourself. The COO of Facebook focused on the idea of finding work that stirs your passion.

8. Neil Gamain — University of the Arts, 2012


Video courtesy of Lennie Alzate

The English author acknowledged the value of making mistakes; it means you are out in the world doing something.

9. Ellen DeGeneres — Tulane University, 2009


Video courtesy of Tulane University

The talk show host and comedian emphasized following your own path. If you know yourself, you will always be okay.

10. David Foster Wallace — Kenyon College, 2005


Some expletives.
Video courtesy of Jamie Sullivan

The American author highlighted the importance of awareness, of yourself and others, to truly live a full life.


David Foster Wallace. (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2014, from Famous Authors

Maya Angelou. (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2014, from Poetry Foundation

Neil Gaiman Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2014, from Chicago Public Library

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