It was pretty impossible for us to choose just 15 graduation speeches from the past decade. There were so many amazing ones, from Oprah Winfrey, to Bono, to Sheryl Sandberg. So instead of us deciding, we left the vote up to you. The results are in, and here are the top five most inspiring graduation speeches of the decade:
5. Ellen Degeneres to Tulane in 2009
The biggest takeaways from Ellen’s speech is that “success” is defined differently throughout different stages of your life. It’s always important to remember that the struggles you face will only make you stronger.
4. David Foster Wallace to Kenyon College in 2005
No matter how many people try to convince us otherwise, we are in control of how we think about the world. That’s what Wallace wanted people to take away from his address.
3. Steve Jobs to Stanford in 2005
People who sat in the audience will never forget Jobs’ motivational words about having courage. He said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” You have to listen to your own inner voice.
2. Kerry Washington to George Washington University in 2013
“You are adventurers. In my eyes, you are heroes who have faced fears and taken risks and forged ahead,” Washington said. She took some pointers from good ‘ole Olivia.
1. Jonathan Safran Foer to Middlebury College in 2013
In this day in age, we’re all so connected to our technology that we forget how important it is to unplug. Foer encouraged everyone to find time to step back from phones and computers and tablets to figure out what it is that we really need. This human interaction is essential.
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