Graduation Season in the Air: Some Quotes from the Best Speeches

Across the United States and many other areas of the world, thousands of college and graduate students are (and will soon be) graduating from their respective universities. They enter a period defined by uncertainty and an economy which is not exactly inviting.

This means that the experts and workers of the future need some inspiring and informative words to help them make the transition to the “real world” that so many others have done before them. Fortunately, colleges and universities have a longstanding tradition of inviting prominent individuals to give speeches to their graduating classes.

This tradition is rife with quotes and advice that are often highly relevant for people who have been out of school for years or those who never even attended higher education as well. We all need a little help, advice, and encouragement – here are some quotes from graduation speeches.

Bill Gates with an interesting remark about success and official recognition: “I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: ‘Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.’ I want to thank Harvard for this honor. I’ll be changing my job next year and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my resume!”

J.K. Rowling on following your passion: “I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.”

Stephen Colbert on life: “Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.”

Ellen DeGeneres being funny and insightful: “Life is like one big Mardi Gras, but instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain. If they like what they see, you’ll have more beads than you’ll know what do with.”

Lastly, an old but powerful piece of advice from Winston Churchill at the Harrow School in 1941:  “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these quotes. Feel free to add your own favorite graduation speech quote on our site!

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