By: Autumn at University Language On: June 7, 2013 In: Current Events, Graduation Comments: 0

Even if you didn’t graduate this year, you probably paid attention to the graduation ceremony at your school.

After all, college commencement speakers are known for giving great advice, and they’re often famous, too.

Whether your favorite actor, inventor, or politician was one of the college commencement speakers in 2013, you might be interested in excerpts from some of the most outstanding speeches this year.

Inspiring Quotes

Many of the best graduation speech quotes are inspiring, sending new graduates off to the real world with a sense of hope as they look for their first job after college. Here is what just a few inspirational college commencement speakers said in 2013:

“Your diploma is not a ticket to show off what you know. It’s permission to admit to yourself how much you still have yet to learn.”

–Neil deGrasse Tyson at Rice University

“Know your true self. Your true self is not your self-image that is dependent on the labels you and others have given yourself. Your true self is the innermost core of your being that is beyond all labels, definitions and limitations. All the wisdom traditions tell us that the human spirit is a field of infinite possibilities, a field of infinite creativity, love, compassion, joy and profound equanimity. Know you can only give to the world that which you possess in that innermost core of your being. Remember that you will create peace only when you are peaceful and create a loving world only when you have learned to love.”

–Deepak Chopra at Hartwick College

“You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself, to at least give it the floor, because it is the key not only to consciousness but to real growth. To accept duality is to earn identity. And identity is something that you are constantly earning. … Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better.”

–Joss Whedon at Wesleyan University

Funny Quotes

Some college commencement speakers are known for their great sense of humor. You might look forward to being entertained by their speeches, but you may also be surprised at the wisdom that’s just below the surface of their jokes. Here are some amusing graduation speech quotes:

“So self obsessed — tweeting your Vines, hashtagging your Spotifys and Snapchatting your YOLOs — your generation needs everything to be about you. And that’s very upsetting to us baby boomers because self-absorption is kind of our thing. We’re the original ‘me’ generation, we made the last 50 years all about us. We took all the money, we soaked up all the government services, and we’ve deep-fried nearly everything in the ocean. It may seem that all that’s left for you is unpaid internships, Monday to Tuesday mail delivery, and, thanks to Global Warming, soon semester at sea will mean sailing the coast of Ohio…”

–Stephen Colbert at the University of Virginia

“There’ll be no U-Haul truck behind my casket. When I did my financial disclosure as vice president the first time, The Washington Post said, quote, It’s probable no man has … assumed the office of vice president with fewer assets than Joe Biden. I hope they were talking financial assets. And there was all this discussion about why I had no money. I’ll tell you why I had no money. Four years of Penn, three years of Syracuse, four years of Georgetown, three years at Yale, two years at Tulane, two years at Penn, and now a granddaughter at Penn. I was asked why I wore a Penn tie. My answer is: I earned it.”

–Vice President Biden at the University of Pennsylvania

“When I was your age, we didn’t have the Internet in our pants. We didn’t even have the Internet not in our pants. That’s how bad it was. I know I sound like my grandfather right now. We didn’t have teeth! There were no questions marks, we just had words! What was I talking about? The Internet…Not only can you not plan the impact you’re going to have, you often won’t recognize it when you’re having it…”

–Twitter CEO Dick Costolo at the University of Michigan

Prominent College Commencement Speakers in 2013

Most college commencement speakers are considered successful in some way. But some names are definitely more recognizable than others, and for that reason, they might even speak at more than one college graduation ceremony.

Here are some of the most famous commencement speakers this year and the schools that hosted them:

  • President Obama: Morehouse College; Ohio State University; US Naval Academy
  • Michelle Obama: Bowie State University; Eastern Kentucky University
  • Vice President Biden: University of Pennsylvania
  • Mitt Romney: Southern Virginia University
  • Stephen Colbert: University of Virginia
  • The Dalai Lama: Tulane University
  • Ed Helms: Knox College
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: New England Institute of Technology
  • Katie Couric: Randolph Macon College

Who spoke at your college’s commencement this year? And who would you love to see make a speech at your own graduation?

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