14 Great Commencement Speeches

–AP photos and Globe photo

It’s that time of year again, when students across the country don their caps and gowns and prepare to graduate college. Within all of the pomp and circumstance is the commencement speech, a crucial moment meant to send graduates off into the real world with wisdom, advice, and maybe even some life lessons. Sometimes the speeches are forgettable, but a great commencement speech can stick with you for years.

Here are some great commencement speeches with messages that can resonate with everyone:

Salman Khan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012

Read Khan’s speech

Sheryl Sandberg,, Harvard Business School, 2012

Read Sandberg’s speech


Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts, 2012

Read Gaiman’s speech

Robert Krulwich, University of California, Berkeley, 2011

Read Krulwich’s speech

Jon Stewart, College of William and Mary, 2010

Read Stewart’s speech

Ellen DeGeneres, Tulane University, 2009

Read DeGeneres’s speech

J.K. Rowling, Harvard University, 2008

Read Rowling’s speech

Oprah Winfrey, Stanford University, 2008

Read Winfrey’s speech

Stephen Colbert, Knox College, 2006

Read Colbert’s speech

Steve Jobs, Stanford University, 2005

Read Jobs’s speech

David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College, 2005

Read Wallace’s speech

Bono, University of Pennsylvania 2004

Read O’Brien’s speech

John F. Kennedy, American University, 1963

Read Kennedy’s speech (and watch the full 27 minute speech)

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