Commencement speeches of the likes of Steve Jobs and Barack Obama have inspired millions over the years and have brought forth many memorable quotes such  “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”. While Steve Jobs shared these wise words decades ago, Mysha Farah from the Circle team brings you some recent commencement speeches that will motivate you for sure. 

Oprah Winfrey at the University of Southern California

There’s no one else in the world that most of us would rather receive life advice from than Oprah Winfrey. And that’s just what happened to the graduates of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles in May, 2018 . Oprah spoke about hysteria, media, and the importance of truth.

Winfrey told the audience at the Shrine Auditorium, “Your job now is to take everything you’ve learned here to challenge the left, the right, and the center. When you see something, you say something, and you say it with the facts to back it up. The truth has always been and always be our shield against corruption.” She also urged students to get their voices heard. She said, “You build a legacy, not from one thing, but from everything.” 

Amal Clooney at Vanderbilt University

Internationally acclaimed human-rights attorney Amal Clooney appeared at Vanderbilt University in May 2018 as part of its commencement activities and gave an inspiring speech about the importance of courage. Amal Clooney charged Vanderbilt University graduates to be courageous, like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

“Courage, as they say, is contagious,” Clooney, a British international human rights lawyer, told Vanderbilt’s 2018 senior class. “People who have had the courage to change their societies, in India, in South Africa, in the United States, inspire each other and create rights for future generations … there is still much to do.” 

Tara Westover at Northeastern University

Tara Westover, author of the New York Times bestseller ‘Educated’ was invited to speak at Northeastern University in 2019. Her speech titled ‘The Un-Instagrammable Self’  talked about how we have a ‘third self’ that is our ‘virtual avatar’, which we portray in front of the world.

She said, “They are beautiful, unblemished lives. But sometimes I think that when we deny what is worst about ourselves, we also deny what is best. We repress our ignorance, and thus we deny our capacity to learn. We repress our faults, and thus we deny our capacity to change. We forget that it is our flawed human self, and not our avatar, who creates things and reconsiders and forgives and shows mercy.” 

Robert F. Smith at Morehouse College

Has any commencement speech gotten more buzz in 2019 than this Robert F. Smith’s? Of course, the billionaire investor’s address was beautifully written and delivered, but, in a delightful surprise, he also he also promised to pay off all the debt for the Morehouse class of 2019. Smith told the crowd that when “Dr. King said the ‘arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,’ he wasn’t saying it bends on its own accord. It bends because we choose to put our shoulders into it together and push.” In this incredible act of philanthropy, Smith undeniably puts action to Dr. King’s words.

He also said ,” Don’t sit around and wait for someone to anoint you ready for the next challenge. Don’t wait for your turn. Bet on yourself and have the confidence to stand up and say, ‘my time is now’.” 

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