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Ten Commencement Speakers You Wish You'd Had

Ten Commencement Speakers You Wish You'd Had

Liz Dwyer | GOOD Magazine

Graduation is an exciting time, but let’s face it: Commencement speeches aren’t always memorable. A completely unscientific poll of the GOOD office revealed that almost none of us recall our college commencement speakers, or what they said to us (although we suspect it was something like, “You’ve worked hard! Yay!”). So here are 10 commencement speakers—and their inspiring, funny, and just plain on-point words of wisdom—that we wish we’d heard on graduation day.

1. Steve Jobs, Stanford University, 2005: Jobs hits all the right notes in this speech, in which he shares his own humble upbringings and reflects on his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He told the crowd, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

2. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), Lake Forest College, 1977: When Lake Forest asked Geisel to come accept an honorary degree, he agreed, but he then balked at being their commencement speaker. “I talk with people, not to people,” he told the school’s president. Geisel relented at the ceremony and pulled out a 92-word poem he’d composed, “My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers”.

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