It's officially graduation season, which means the class of 2016 in high schools, colleges, and even grad schools across the nation are celebrating this month. As these commencement speech quotes show, graduation is a happy time for students everywhere, but it is also about more than just caps and gowns and parties. It's the beginning of a new chapter, as many contemplate their plans for the future and start to take the next big steps into adulthood. And what better way to kick off the process than with some words of wisdom from these accomplished commencement speakers?
Whether you're a new or soon-to-be graduate looking for some inspiration or simply a proud relative hoping to impart a few uplifting pieces of graduation advice, these quotes are perfect for giving (or getting) a little extra motivation. From personal suggestions on how to find a career path to thoughtful notes on the importance of living life to the fullest, these insightful, smart, and touching words will have graduates everywhere feeling empowered and ready to take on the world.
Check them out below or better yet, forward them along to a fellow student or anyone you might know who is graduating this spring. I bet they'll thank you for the dose of encouragement.
1. "You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself." — Sheryl Sanders, University of California, Berkeley, 2016
2. "You have to be persistent. And success, however small, however incomplete, success is still success." — President Barack Obama, Rutgers University, 2016
3. "A fulfilling professional life can be found at the intersection of what you love and what you’re good at. And when you think you’ve discovered it, go at it full-throttle." — Katie Couric, University of Madison, Wisconsin, 2015
4. "You may learn sooner than most generations the hard lesson that you must always make the path for yourself...There is no secret society out there that will tap you on your shoulder one night and show you the way." — Stephen Colbert, University of Virginia, 2013
5. "Don't just be yourself. Be all of yourself. Don't just live. Be that other thing connected to death. Be life. Live all of your life. Understand it, see it, appreciate it. And have fun." — Joss Whedon, Wesleyan University, 2013
6. "Listen, you don’t know what’s about to hit you. And that’s the great thing about life: How boring would the journey be if you already knew for sure the final destination?" — Meredith Vieira, Boston University, 2015
7. "I’m asking each of you, at some point, to act up — be misbehaved. Buck the system. Fight for what you believe in. This is the time to do it. You’re the ones to do it. Your world, like no other generation, you actually get to create the world that you can imagine. And never in the history of mankind has it been so available to so many people to do that thing." — Mark Ruffalo, Dickinson College, 2015
8. "Work hard but work smart. Always. Every day." — Bobbi Brown, Fashion Institute of Technology, 2014
9. "Each and every one of you has a vibrant, courageous soul, and a depth of power, creativity and wisdom you are only just beginning to tap into. That is your light. It is the light within you, and you have to let it shine because when you do, I promise, it will illuminate you, your family, your friends, your community, your country, and the entire world." — Ed Helms, University of Virginia, 2015
10. "Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It's hard work that makes things happen. It's hard work that creates change." — Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth College, 2014
11. "Don’t be afraid to dream big, but remember dreams without goals are just dreams and they ultimately fuel disappointment. So have dreams but have goals. To achieve these goals, you must apply discipline and consistency everyday. You have to work at it…I try to give myself a goal every day, sometimes it’s just not to curse somebody out." — Denzel Washington, Dillard University, 2015
12. "You are about to enter the most uncertain and thrilling period of your lives. The stories you are about to live are the ones you will be telling your children and grandchildren and therapists. They are the temp gigs and internships before you find your passion. They are the cities you live in before the opportunity of a lifetime pops up halfway across the world. They are the relationships in which you hang on for dear life even as your shoulder cracks in protest. They are the times you say no to the good opportunities so you can say yes to the best opportunities...They are the stories in which you figure out who you are." — Lin-Manuel Miranda, University of Pennsylvania, 2016
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