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If you have a checklist, good for you. Structured ambition can sometimes be motivating. But also, feel free to let it go.

American actress Mindy Kaling delivered the commencement address to the 2018 graduating students at Dartmouth College. She implored the graduands to believe in themself and become extraordinary.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself,“

Mindy Kaling Dartmouth’s 2018 Commencement Speech Transcript

Good morning to the Class of 2018, the faculty, the parents, the grandparents, fellow honorees, and the paid laughers I have scattered throughout the audience.

It is an honor to join you this morning for this special occasion.

It is also an honor to speak to you today from behind this gigantic tree stump. Like some sort of female Lorax with an advanced degree. That’s right, you guys; I’m hitting Dr. Seuss hard and early in this speech. Because Dartmouth grads have a privilege unique among all the Ivy League: We will be forced to be mini-experts on Dr. Seuss for our entire lives.

On my deathbed, I’ll be saying, “Did you know that his real name was Theodor Geisel? Did you know he was editor of the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern?” And yes, while no U.S. Presidents have gone to Dartmouth, we can at least lay claim for the wonderful Dr. Seuss.

Another notable alumnus is Salmon P. Chase, the man on the $10,000 bill. A symbolically powerful piece of paper that’s largely useless in the real world. Like a degree in playwriting which I received from this very institution. Thank you for paying for that, Mom and Dad!

It’s a thrill to be back here in New Hampshire, the Granite State, known for two things: the place where you can legally not wear your seatbelt, and Adam Sandler’s birthplace.

New Hampshire has one of the best mottos of any state: “Live Free or Die.” For outsiders, it sounds like an exciting declaration of freedom; but when you’re here in January, “die” actually sounds like a pretty good option.

Live Free or Die” is the official motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire,

I remember the days when it was so cold your sneeze would become an ice sculpture before it hit the ground. In Los Angeles, where I live now, if I sneeze, I just call my doctor and have my blood replaced with that of a teenage track star. That’s normal there. I’m mostly track star right now.

Before I get any further, I should actually probably clarify who I am for the parents and grandparents in the audience who are thinking to themselves, “Who is this loud Indian woman? Is that the girl from Quantico? She looks so much worse in person.”

No, no, I’m not Priyanka Chopra, not even Padma Lakshmi. I’m the other Indian woman we have allowed to be on television, Mindy Kaling. Thank you, thank you.

You may remember me from my role on The Office as Kelly Kapoor, who internet commenters said was—quote—“shrill” and—quote—“took up valuable time that could have gone to Steve Carell.”

I then created and starred in my own TV show, The Mindy Project. Thank you, thank you very much. It was an uphill battle to get the show on the air, but it was worth it, because it enabled me to become Dartmouth’s most successful female minority show creator who has spoken at commencement!

Oh wait, no. Shonda Rhimes went here. Yup, and she’s created like 10 more shows than me, so great. No, cool. Cool, cool, cool, Shonda. Friggin’ role model, good for you.

But today is not about famous alumni. No, no. It’s about the men and women who have toiled in obscurity for years so that they might better our country. I speak, of course, of the 51 percent of Dartmouth grads who will go into finance—highest in the Ivy League! Look left. Look right. All three of you will be spending at least ten years in a white collar prison.

I know that going into the real world sounds scary, but it’s exciting too. Finally, you’ll be in control of your own lives. No longer will there be an irrational Board of Trustees telling you you can’t have hard liquor on campus, for the ridiculous reason that they don’t want you to die. Come tomorrow, no one can stop you from filling your apartment with $4.99 handles of Uncle Satan’s Unfiltered Potato Vodka. Go crazy.

It’s a real moment of reflection for me to be standing here speaking to all of you now, because it makes me harken back to my own time at my Dartmouth graduation. Madeleine Albright was my commencement speaker; and while I don’t remember any specific quotes she said, or even a general gist of what she was talking about, I do remember thinking: “I wonder what it will be like to have my own cell phone?”

How things have changed. For all I know, at this very moment, most of you are posting this speech on your Instagram stories with a GIF of Winnie the Pooh twerking. If you are, please at least use my official hashtag, MindyGoesBigGreenTwentyEighteen. Thank you.

I bet none of you remember a time before the internet. Hell, you probably don’t even remember a time before the Facebook page, “Dartmouth Memes for Cold AF Teens.” Yeah, yeah. I know about that. Made me feel like a real creep researching it. “Hello, I’m a 38‑year‑old woman who wants to join your teen Facebook group. It’s for research, I swear!”

Meanwhile, when I was in college we didn’t even have Google. If you wanted to find out, say, how tall Ben Affleck was, you were out of luck. You just had to sit there, not knowing, and your entire day would be ruined.

Or, say I wanted to meet up with a friend—I couldn’t just text her. I had to walk outside and hope I accidentally bumped into her. Or, I “blitzed” her. Ah, BlitzMail. You know that feeling you have when you tell your friends that you “blitz” and they don’t get it and you roll your eyes all smug like “Oh, it’s a Dartmouth thing.” That ends today. You try to say “blitz” one hundred yards east of White River Junction and you will get laughed back to your one-room triple in the Choates.

Fun fact: In 2001, the year I graduated, a pinkeye epidemic broke out amongst my classmates because we were all using public BlitzMail iMac terminals and not washing our hands. Those are just the kind of the sexy stories indicative of my time at Dartmouth.

You have so many cool new things here now. Like, look at the new logo, the D-Pine. It’s beautiful. It reminds me of what college-aged Mindy thought a marijuana leaf might look like but I was too scared to actually find out. And this new House System sounds really cool! It’s so Hogwarts-y! You know, you’re sorted into your little Gryffindors and Ravenclaws, except they’re called … South House. West House. School House.

Okay, come on guys. School House? Really? We’re just saying what we see? That’s the laziest name I’ve ever heard in my life, and I’ve spent over a decade working on shows called The Office and The Mindy Project.

Still, I remember sitting where you’re sitting. I was so full of questions like, “When is this thing going to end?” and “How many friends can I invite to dinner and still have mom and dad pay?” And, most importantly, “Why didn’t I wear any clothes underneath my gown?”

Now we’re reaching the part of the speech where I am supposed to tell you something uplifting like “follow your dreams.”

In general, advice isn’t actually an effective way to change your life. If all it took to make your life great was hearing amazing advice, then everyone who watched TED Talks would be a millionaire.

So don’t trust any one story of how how to become successful. As Madeline Albright said at my Commencement—see, I don’t remember anything. And I did just fine.

So here is some practical advice that you may or may not remember at the end of this speech because, hey, that’s the gig:

1. First off, remove “Proficient at Word” from your resume. That is ridiculous. You’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel of competency there. This is how you become proficient at Word: You open Word on your computer.

2. Most of your post-college life is simply filling out forms. Car insurance, health insurance, W-2s. W-4s, 1099s. Guess what? None of us know what any of those forms mean, but you will fill out a hundred of them before you die.

3. You never need more than one pancake. Trust me on this. Cartoons have trained us to want a giant stack of those bad boys, but order one first and then just see how you feel later.

4. This one is just for guys: When you go on dates, act as if every woman you’re talking to is a reporter for an online publication that you are scared of. One shouldn’t need the threat of public exposure and scorn to treat women well; but if that’s what it’s gonna take, fine. Date like everyone’s watching, because we are.

5. And this might be the most important—buy a toilet plunger. Trust me on this. Don’t wait until you need a plunger to buy a plunger.

Commencement is a time of transition for parents, too. That empty nest you were enjoying these past four years? Gone as soon as this speech is over. I hope you like full‑time lodgers who don’t pay rent, don’t do laundry, eat all the food in your fridge, and binge Family Guy on your sofa for weeks. That is your life now.

Although some of your graduates will be making more money than you—51% to be exact. And to the parents of those investment bankers, consultants, and hedge fund analysts—congratulations. Your kids will be fabulously wealthy but still somehow sharing your cell phone plan because it—quote—“saves everybody money.”

Okay, now let’s get real. Let me rip off the Band-Aid for all you, the ’18s. Next year, the next year of your life is going to be bad. You have been in the comfortable fleece-lined womb of mother Dartmouth for four years now, and you’re gonna go out in the cold, hard world.

Out there in the real world, there will be a target on your back. People will want to confirm their expectations of Ivy League graduates—that you’re a jerk, that you’re spoiled, that you use the word “summer” as a verb. Those stereotypes exist for a reason. I mean come on, the guy from the ten-thousand-dollar bill went to this school.

You’re graduating into a world where it seems like everything is falling apart. Trust in institutions are at a record low; the truth doesn’t seem to matter anymore; and for all I know, the president just tweeted us into a war with Wakanda, a country that doesn’t exist.

So, Class of 2018, you are entering a world that we have toppled—we have toppled—like a Jenga tower, and we are relying on you to rebuild it.

But how can you do that with the knowledge that things are so unstable out there? I’ll tell you my secret, the one thing that has kept me going through the years, my superpower: delusion.

This is something I may share with our president, a fact that is both horrifying and interesting. Two years in, I think we can pretty safely say that he’s not getting carved onto Mount Rushmore; but damn if that isn’t a testament to how far you can get just by believing you’re the smartest, most successful person in the world.

You have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it’s not real.

My point is, you have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it’s not real. You need to be your own cheerleader now, because there isn’t a room full of people waiting with pom‑poms to tell you, “You did it! We’ve been waiting all this time for you to succeed!”

So, I’m giving you permission to root for yourself. And while you’re at it, root for those around you, too. It took me a long time to realize that success isn’t a zero-sum game. Which leads me to the next part of my remarks.

I thought I might take a second to speak to the ladies in the audience. (Guys, take a break; you don’t have to pay attention during this part. Maybe spend the next 30 seconds thinking about all the extra money you’ll make in your life for doing the same job as a woman. Pretty sweet.)

Hey girls, we need to do a better job of supporting each other. I know that I am guilty of it too. We live in a world where it seems like there’s only room for one of us at the table. So when another woman shows up, we think, “Oh my god, she’s going to take the one woman spot! That was supposed to be mine!”

But that’s just what certain people want us to do! Wouldn’t it be better if we worked together to dismantle a system that makes us feel like there’s limited room for us? Because when women work together, we can accomplish anything. Even stealing the world’s most expensive diamond necklace from the Met Gala, like in Ocean’s 8, a movie starring me, which opens in theatres June 8th. And to that end, women, don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn like I just did.

Okay, guys, you can listen again. You didn’t miss much. Just remember to see Ocean’s 8, now playing in theaters nationwide. Ocean’s 8: Every con has its pros.

Now I wanted to share a little bit about me, Mindy Kaling, the Dartmouth student. When I came to Hanover in the fall of 1997, I was, as many of you were: driven, bright, ambitious, and really, really into The Black Eyed Peas.

I arrived here as a 17-year-old, took the lay of the land, and immediately began making a checklist of everything I wanted to accomplish. I told myself that by the time I graduated in 2001, I would have checked them all off.

And here was my freshman fall checklist: be on Hanover crew, on Lodge crew, be in an a cappella group, be in an improv troupe, write a play that’s performed at the Bentley, do a cartoon for the D, and try to be in a cool senior society. And guess what? I completed that checklist. But before you think: “Wait, why is this woman just bragging about her accomplishments from 17 years ago?”—keep listening.

Then, I graduated. And I made a new checklist for my twenties: get married by 27, have kids at 30, win an Oscar, be the star of my own TV show, host the MTV Music Awards (this was 2001, guys; it made more sense then), and do it all while being a size 2.

Well, spoiler alert: I’ve only done one of those things, and I’m not sure I will ever do the others. And that is a really scary feeling. Knowing how far that I’ve strayed from the person that I was hoping to be when I was 21.

I will tell you a personal story. After my daughter was born in December, I remember bringing her home and being in my house with her for the first time and thinking, “Huh. According to movies and TV, this is traditionally the time when my mother and spouse are supposed to be here, sharing this experience with me.” And I looked around, and I had neither. And for a moment, it was kind of scary. Like, “Can I do this by myself?”

But then, that feeling went away, because the reality is, I’m not doing it by myself. I’m surrounded by family and friends who love and support me. And the joy I feel from being with my daughter Katherine eclipses anything from any crazy checklist.

So I just want to tell you guys, don’t be scared if you don’t do things in the right order, or if you don’t do some things at all. I didn’t think I’d have a child before I got married, but hey, it turned out that way, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t think I’d have dessert before breakfast today, but hey, it turned out that way and I wouldn’t change a thing.

So I just want to tell you guys, don’t be scared if you don’t do things in the right order, or if you don’t do some things at all.

So if I could impart any advice, it’s this: If you have a checklist, good for you. Structured ambition can sometimes be motivating. But also, feel free to let it go. Yes, my culminating advice from my speech is a song from the Disney animated movie, Frozen.

I’ve covered a lot of ground today, not all of it was serious, but I wanted to leave you with this: I was not someone who should have the life I have now, and yet I do. I was sitting in the chair you are literally sitting in right now and I just whispered, “Why not me?” And I kept whispering it for seventeen years; and here I am, someone that this school deemed worthy enough to speak to you at your Commencement.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: Why not you? You made it this far.

Thank you very much, and congratulations to the Class of 2018.

Source: Dartmouth College

“Change is the effort of committed citizens who hitch their wagons to something bigger than themselves and fight for it every single day.”

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address to the 2016 graduating class of Howard University. He challenged the graduates to serve as “seeds of change” for social and political justice in America.

American singer-songwriter and 11-times Grammy Award Winner Taylor Swift delivered the commencement speech to the graduating students of New York University. Taylor was awarded an honorary doctorate degree wherein she spoke about embracing your struggles and owning your mistakes.

Taylor Swift’s 2022 New York University Commencement Speech Transcript:

Hi, I’m Taylor [Applause]

The last time I was in a stadium this size I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard this outfit is much more comfortable. I would like to say a huge thank you to NYU’s chairman of the board of trustees Bill Berkley and all the trustees and members of the board NYU’s President Andrew Hamilton, Provost Catherine Fleming, and the faculty and alumni here today who have made this day possible.

I feel so proud to share this day with my fellow honorees Susan Hockfield and Felix Matos
Rodriguez who humble me with the ways, they improve our world with their work as for me
I’m 90 percent sure the main reason I’m here is because I have a song called 22. And let me just say
I am elated to be here with you today as we celebrate and graduate from New York University’s class of 2022.

Not a single one of us here today has done it alone we are each a patchwork quilt of those who have loved us those who have believed in our futures those who showed us empathy and kindness
or told us the truth even when it wasn’t easy to hear those who told us we could do it when there was absolutely no proof of that someone read stories to you and taught you to dream and offered up some moral code of right and wrong for you to try and live by someone tried their best to explain every concept in this insanely complex world to the child that was you as you asked a bazillion questions like how does the moon work and why can we eat salad but not grass and maybe they didn’t do it perfectly no one ever can maybe they aren’t with us anymore in that case, I hope you’ll remember them today.

If they are in this stadium i hope you’ll find your own way to express your gratitude for all the
steps and missteps that have led us to this common destination.

I know that words are supposed to be my thing but I will never be able to find the words to thank my mom and dad, and my brother Austin for the sacrifices they made every day so I could go from
singing in coffee houses to standing up here with you all today because no words would ever be enough to all the incredible parents, family members, mentors, teachers, allies, friends, and loved ones here today who have supported these students in their pursuit of educational enrichment
let me say to you now welcome to new york it’s been waiting for you.

I’d like to thank NYU for making me technically on paper at least a doctor [Applause] not the type of doctor you would want around in case of an emergency unless your specific emergency was that
you desperately needed to hear a song with a catchy hook and an intensely cathartic bridge section or if your emergency was that you needed a person who can name over 50 breeds of cats in one minute. [Applause]

I never got to have a normal college experience per se. I went to public high school until 10th
grade and then finished my education doing homeschool work on the floors of airport terminals
then I went out on the road for a radio tour which sounds incredibly glamorous but in reality it consisted of rental car motels and my mom and I pretending to have loud mother-daughter fights with each other during boarding, so no one would want the empty seat between us on the southwest.

As a kid, I always thought I would go away to college imagining the posters I would hang on the wall of my freshman dorm. I even set the ending of my music video from my song love story at my fantasy imaginary college where I meet a male model reading a book on the grass and with one
single glance we realized we had been in love in our past lives which is exactly what you guys all
experienced at some point in the last four years right. [Applause]

But I really can’t complain about not having a normal college experience to you because you went to NYU during a global pandemic being essentially locked into your dorms and having to do classes over zoom. Everyone in college during normal times
stresses about test scores
but on top of that
you also had to pass like a thousand
kova tests
i imagine
the idea of a normal college experience
was all you wanted to
but in this case
you and i both learned that you don’t
always get all the things in the bag
that you selected from the menu
in the delivery surface that is life
you get what you get
and as
i would like to say to you
wholeheartedly you should be very proud
of what you’ve done with it
today
you leave new york university
and then go out into the world
searching what’s next and so will i

[Music]

so as a rule
i try not to give anyone
unsolicited advice
unless they ask for it
i’ll go into this more later
i guess i have been officially solicited
in this situation to impart
whatever wisdom i might have
to tell you things that have helped me
so far in my life
please bear in mind that i in no way
feel qualified to tell you what to do
you’ve worked
and struggled and sacrificed and studied
and dreamed
your way here to dare
and so
you know what you’re doing
you’ll do things differently than i did
them
and for different reasons so i won’t
tell you what to do because no one likes
that i will however
give you some life hacks i wish i knew
when i was starting out my dreams of a
career
and navigating life
love pressure
choices
shame
hope and friendship
the first of which is
life
can be heavy
especially if you try to carry it all at
once
part of growing up
and moving into new chapters of your
life
is about catch and release
what i mean by that is
knowing what things to keep
and what things to release
you can’t carry all things
all grudges
all updates on your ex
all
enviable promotions your school bully
got at the hedge fund his uncle started

decide
what is yours to hold
and let the rest go
oftentimes the good things in your life
are lighter anyway
so there’s more room for them
one toxic relationship
can outweigh so many wonderful simple
joys
you get to pick
what your life has time and room for
be discerning
secondly
learn to live
alongside
cringe
no matter
how hard you try to avoid being cringe
you will
look back on your life
and cringe retrospectively

cringe
is unavoidable over a lifetime
even the term cringe might someday be
deemed cringe
i promise you
you’re probably doing or wearing
something right now
that you will look back on later and
find revolting and hilarious
you can’t avoid it so don’t try to
for example
i had a phase where for the entirety of
2012
i dressed like a 1950s
housewife
but you know what i was having fun
trends and phases are fun
looking back and laughing is fun
and while we’re talking about things
that make us squirm but really shouldn’t
i’d like to say i’m a big
advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm
for things

it seems to me that there is a false
stigma
around eagerness
in our culture of unbothered
ambivalence
this outlook perpetuates the idea that
it’s not cool to want it
the people who don’t try are
fundamentally more chic than people who
do
and i wouldn’t know because i’ve been a
lot of things but i’ve never been an
expert on chic but i’m the one who’s up
here so you have to listen to me when i
say this
never
be ashamed
of trying
effortlessness
is a myth
the people who wanted it the least were
the ones i wanted to date and be friends
with
in high school
the people who want it the most
are the people i now hire to work for my
company

i write i started writing songs when i
was 12
and since then
it’s been the compass guiding my life
and in turn
my life guided my writing
everything i do
is just an extension of my writing
whether it’s directing videos or a short
film
creating the visuals for a tour
or standing on a stage performing
everything is connected
by my love of the craft
the thrill of working through ideas and
narrowing them down
and polishing it all up in the end
editing waking up in the middle of the
night throwing out the old idea because
you just thought of a new or better one
or a plot device that ties the whole
thing together
there’s a reason they call it a hook
sometimes a string of words
just
ensnares me and i can’t
focus on anything until it’s been
recorded or written down
as a songwriter i’ve never been able to
sit still or stay in one creative place
for too long
i’ve made and released 11 albums and in
the process i’ve switched genre from
country
to pop to alternative to folk
and this might sound like a very
songwriter-centric
line of discussion
but in a way
i really do think
we are all
writers
and most of us
write in a different voice for different
situations
you write
differently in your instagram stories
then you do your senior thesis
you send a different type of email to
your boss than you do your best friend
from home
we are all literary chameleons and i
think it’s fascinating
it’s just a continuation of the idea
that we are so many things all the time
and
i know it can be really overwhelming
figuring out who to be and when
who you are now
and how to act in order to get where you
want to go
i have some good news
it’s totally up to you
i have some terrifying news
it’s totally up to you
i said to you earlier that i don’t ever
offer advice
unless someone asked me for it and now
i’ll tell you why
as a person who started my very public
career
at the age of 15 it came with a price
and that price
was years
of unsolicited advice
being the youngest person in every room
for over a decade
meant
that i was constantly being issued
warnings
from older members of the music industry
media interviewers executives and this
advice
often presented itself
as thinly veiled warnings
see i was a teenager
at a time when our society was
absolutely obsessed with the idea
of having perfect
young female role models
it felt like every interview i did
included slight barbs by the interviewer
about me one day
running off the rails
and that meant a different thing
to every person who said it to me so
i became a young adult while being fed
the message
that if i didn’t make
any mistakes
all the children of america
would grow up to be perfect angels
however if i did slip up
the entire earth would fall off its axis
and it would be entirely my fault and i
would go to pop star jail
forever and ever
it was all centered around the idea
that mistakes
equal
failure
and ultimately
the loss
of any chance at a happy or rewarding
life
this
has not been my experience
my experience has been
that my mistakes
led to the best things in my life
and
being embarrassed when you mess up
is part of the human experience
getting back up
dusting yourself off
and seeing who still wants to hang out
with you afterward and laugh about it
that’s a gift
the times i was told no
or wasn’t included
wasn’t chosen didn’t win didn’t make the
cut
looking back it really feels like those
moments
were as important if not more crucial
than the moments i was told yes
not being invited
to the parties and sleepovers in my
hometown
made me feel hopelessly lonely
but because i felt alone
i would sit in my room and write the
songs that would get me
a ticket somewhere else
having label executives in nashville
tell me
that only 35 year old housewives
listened to country music
and there was no place for a 13 year old
on their roster
made me cry in the car on the way home
but then
i’d post my songs on my myspace
and yes myspace
and i would message with other teenagers
like me who loved country music but just
didn’t have anyone singing from their
perspective
having journalists write in-depth
oftentimes critical pieces about who
they perceive me to be
made me feel like i was living in some
weird simulation
but it also made me look inward
to learn about who i actually am
having the world treat my love life like
a spectator sport in which i lose every
single game
was not a great way to date in my teens
and twenties
but it taught me
to protect my private life fiercely
being publicly humiliated over and over
again at a young age was excruciatingly
painful
but it forced me
to devalue the ridiculous notion
of minute by minute
ever fluctuating social relevance and
likability
[Applause]

getting cancelled on the internet
and nearly losing my career
gave me an excellent knowledge of all
the types of wine
[Applause]
i know i sound
like a consummate optimist but i’m
really not
i lose perspective
all the time
sometimes
everything
just feels completely pointless
i know the pressure
of living your life through the lens of
perfectionism and i know that i’m
talking to a group of perfectionists
because you are here today
graduating from nyu
[Music]
[Applause]
so this might be hard for you to hear
in your life
you will inevitably
misspeak
trust the wrong person
under react
overreact hurt the people who didn’t
deserve it
overthink
not think at all
self-sabotage
create a reality where only your
experience exists
ruin perfectly good moments for yourself
and others deny any wrongdoing
not take the steps to make it right feel
very guilty
let the guilt eat at you hit rock bottom
finally address the pain you caused try
to do better next time rinse repeat

[Applause]

and i’m not going to lie
these mistakes will cause you to lose
things
i’m trying to tell you
that losing things
doesn’t just mean losing
a lot of the time
when we lose things
we gain things too
now you leave the structure and
framework
of school
and chart your own path
every choice you make leads to the next
choice which leads to the next and i
know it’s hard to know
which path to take
there will be times in life where you
need to stand up for yourself
times when the right thing is actually
to back down and apologize
times when the right thing is to fight
times when the right thing is to turn
and run
times to hold on with all you have
and times to let go with grace
sometimes the right thing to do is to
throw out the old schools of thought in
the name of progress and reform
sometimes the right thing to do is to
sit and listen to the wisdom of those
who have come before us
how will you know
what the right choice is in these
crucial moments
you won’t
how do i give advice to this many people
about their life choices
i won’t
the scary news is
you’re on your own now
but the cool news is
you’re on your own now
[Applause]

i leave you with this
we are led
by our gut instincts
our intuition
our desires and fears our scars and our
dreams
and you will screw it up sometimes
so will i and when i do you will most
likely read about it on the internet
anyway hard things will happen to us
we will recover
we will learn from it
we will grow more resilient because of
it
and as long as we are fortunate enough
to be breathing
we will breathe in
breathe through
breathe deep
and breathe out
and i am a doctor now so i know how
breathing works
i hope you know
how proud
i am
to share this day with you
we’re doing this together
so let’s just keep dancing like we’re
the class of 22.
[Applause]

American actress and Stanford University Almuna (Class of 2007) Issa Rae, delivered the Commencement Address at the senior Class of 2021 ceremony of Stanford’s 130th Commencement on June 12, 2021. Rae analyzed Foxx and Webbie’s “Wipe Me Down” remix lyrics “I pull up at the club VIP, gas tank on E, but all dranks on ME. Wipe Me Down.” as the theme of her speech. She spoke about the importance of building a network and paying it forward.

Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.

American comedic actor and USC alumni Will Ferrell delivered the 134th commencement address at the University of Southern California on May 12, 2017. Ferrell spoke about the value of working on your craft, trusting your guts, ignoring the critics and failing forward.

Your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages. 

Former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered her final commencement speech as the First Lady of the United States of America to the City College of New York (CCNY) graduating students. Michelle’s speech was very inspiring and full of insights. She had some of the graduates chanting “Four more years”.

Michelle Obama’s 2016 City College of New York Commencement Speech Transcript:

Your life is your story. And the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.

George Washington University alumnae (B.A. ’98), American actress Kerry Washington delivered the commencement address at the National Mall in Washington D.C to a large crowd of graduating students and their loved ones. She spoke about Joseph Campbell’s Hero Journey, heeding the call, leaving your comfort zone, living and telling your own stories cos the world needs your voice.

She implored the graduates to go beyond their comfort zones, live and tell their own stories.

Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.

American journalist and Filmmaker Nora Ephron, a 1962 alumnae of Wellesley College, delivered the commencement address to the graduating 1996 class.

It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind.