Go Forth! Commencement 2016


An annual tradition, it’s time to share a few of our favorite remarks from 2016 Commencement exercises across the country:

“I feel so honored to be a detail, a minor character in the story of your graduation day. I feel so honored to bear witness to the beginning of your next chapter. I’m painfully aware of what’s at stake. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway actor, at University of Pennsylvania

“It took me 80 years to write this talk. Eighty years, and I’m still big for my age. A talk entitled, “Lessons I am Still Desperately Trying to Learn.” I have fallen short in all of these categories, but I pass this on hoping you will do better. And I actually, I’m talking to myself because I hope I will do better.”

William Foege, epidemiologist, at Emory University

“But this time, I was not disappointed in myself for failing to be the person they thought I should be. Their dreams and my dreams were different. I would never confuse the two of them again.”

Larry Ellison, Oracle Corp Founder and Chairman, at University of Southern California

“Education is transformative. It literally changes lives. That is why people for centuries have worked so hard to become educated. Education more than any other force can help to erase arbitrary divisions of race and class, arbitrary divisions of culture, and to unlock every person’s God-given potential.”

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, at High Point University

“I wish you could be graduating into a world of peace, light, and love, but that’s not the case. After you leave here today, it’s going to be real life, and real life is no joke.”

Spike Lee, filmmaker, at Johns Hopkins University

“Just please be honest with yourself about what you think and how you feel about all of that, what you like and dislike, what angers you or scares you or saddens you or inspires you or delights you. Those feelings are called your instincts, and you ignore them at your own peril.”

Hank Azaria, actor, at Tufts University

“Some of you already have your lives planned out. Some of you are lost. When I sat at my graduation from college over 5,000 years ago I was both of those things.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew I want to do something.  It wasn’t until 4 years after my graduation that I final deciphered what my heart was telling me to do with my life: Pursue my dream of being a ballerina.”

Jim Gaffigan, comedian, at Catholic University


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