Graduation ceremonies aren’t all about tassels and slideshows -- they often include famous speakers who give advice to students on education, life and love. Though it may seem to students that everyone has a piece of advice to give, these people really know what they’re talking about. Below are nine of the best commencement speeches on the Web.
Nora Ephron, Wellesley College, 1996: "Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women. Thank you. Good luck. The first act of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives.”
Conan O’Brien, Harvard University, 2000: “Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over.”
Steve Jobs, Stanford University, 2005: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. 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. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College, 2005: “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
Barbara Kingsolver, Duke University, 2008: “You can be as earnest and ridiculous as you need to be, if you don't attempt it in isolation. The ridiculously earnest are known to travel in groups. And they are known to change the world. Look at you. That could be you.”
J.K. Rowling, Harvard University, 2008: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
Amy Poehler, Harvard University, 2011: "When you feel scared, hold someone's hand and look into their eyes. And when you feel brave, do the same thing. You are all here because you are smart. And you are brave. And if you add kindness and the ability to change a tire, you almost make up the perfect person."
Stephen Colbert, Northwestern University, 2011: “You have been told to follow your dreams. But what if it’s a stupid dream? Thankfully, dreams can change. If we'd all be stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses."
Jim Carrey, Maharishi University of Management, 2014: “How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.”