3 Commencement Speeches to Inspire Your Week


A commencement address has the unique capability of capturing the collective energy of the hope and vision of seniors as they embark on the paths towards their dreams. Thanks to the internet, we can all tap into this energy at any time of any day. Here are a few of the best commencement speeches (plus a summary of takeaways) that will help inspire you to to take on the week.  

  1. JK Rowling, Harvard 2008
    • "What we achieve inwardly will change outward reality." - Plutarch
    • "We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already"
  2. Naval Adm. William H. McRaven,  University of Texas Austin 2014.
    • "What starts here will indeed change the world."
    • "If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed."

    • "Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status."

    • "If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers."

    • "Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie. It's just the way life is sometimes. (the sugar cookie is a punishment for having a not perfect uniform that involves water and sand)."

    • "If a shark begins to circle your position — stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid...There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them."

    • "If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment."

    • "If you want to change the world, start singing when you're up to your neck in mud."

    •  "In SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell...If you want to change the world don't ever, ever ring the bell."

    • "Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone."

    • "Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today."

  3. Ellen DeGeneres, Tulane University 2009
    • "For me, the most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and not to give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not, to live your life as an honest and compassionate person, to contribute in some way."  
    • "Follow your passion, stay true to yourself."






MindsetJacqui Somen