Every spring as college seniors don their caps and gowns and prepare to receive their diplomas, great advice is given at ceremonies all over the country.
Just as in years past, this year’s graduation speech quotes ranged from funny to moving. And as usual, the famous speakers included amazing actors, inspirational politicians and successful business people at the top of their game.
Check out the best graduation speech quotes of 2016, and hopefully — whether you’re a recent grad or not — gain some insightful perspective about your own future.
Using Social Media to Teach Lessons
Social media is a big part of almost everyone’s day, and the speakers at this year’s graduation ceremonies didn’t forget that. As a result, some of the best graduation speech quotes of 2016 referenced social networks.
“You can hashtag all over Instagram and Twitter, but those social media movements will disappear faster than a Snapchat if you’re not registered to vote.”
–First Lady Michelle Obama at Jackson State University
“From the Facebook and Twitter feeds we monitor, to the algorithms that determine the results of our Web searches based on our previous browsing history and location, our major sources of information are increasingly engineered to reflect back to us the world as we already see it. They give us the comfort of our opinions without the discomfort of thought. So you have to find a way to break out of your echo chambers.”
–U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power at Yale University
Quotes on Making Mistakes
Believe it or not, many of the speakers at college graduation ceremonies have made plenty of mistakes on their path to success. This year, some of them touched on those mistakes during their speeches.
“The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days—the times that challenge you to your very core—that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”
–Sheryl Sandberg at the University of California at Berkeley
“Every stumble is not a fall, and every fall does not mean failure. Being human means you will make mistakes. And you will make mistakes, because failure is God’s way of moving you in another direction.”
–Oprah Winfrey at Johnson C. Smith University
Speeches on Students’ Potential
Graduation day is full of hope for the future, and that’s what some commencement speakers decided to focus on this year.
“So either way, MIT, you’ve got to go out and do really interesting things. Important things. Inventive things. Because this world… real or imagined… this world has some problems we need you to drop everything and solve.”
–Matt Damon at MIT
“Potential just means you haven’t done it yet.”
–Russell Wilson at University of Wisconsin-Madison
Reflections on Admirable Traits
Some of the best quotes at graduation this year centered on characteristics that students should possess, from generosity to persistence.
“I’ve found that this is the most important to me – be generous. You are the elite of a nation. You’re Ivy League, baby. You’ve obviously worked very hard to even be admitted here. And now that you’ve gone through the gauntlet, you’re even smarter. So when you have the chance… take a little time to give back.”
–James Franco at Cornell University
“As you go through life, try to be that person whose actions teach others how to be better people and citizens. Reach out to that shy person who is not so popular. Stand up for others when they’re being treated unfairly in small things and large. Take the time to listen to that friend who is having a difficult time.”
–Clarence Thomas at Hillsdale College in Michigan
“You have to be persistent. And success, however small, however incomplete, success is still success.”
–President Barack Obama at Rutgers University
Did you hear any memorable graduation speech quotes this year?