The Most Inspiring Commencement Quotes

From our favorite celebs

I would be lying if I said I didn’t both laugh and cry simultaneously during Will Ferrell’s recent commencement speech to those kids at USC. Is there any better feeling than that of inspiration, a spark that makes you want to go chase your dreams? Nope, there isn’t. So that’s why we’ve rounded up our favorite commencement quotes to get you inspired AF.

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1. J.K. Rowling, Harvard University 

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

the-most-inspiring-commencement-speeches: jk rowling

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2. Michelle Obama, Dillard University

“You all have opportunities and skills and education that so many folks who came before you never could have dreamed of. So just imagine the kind of impact that you’re going to make. Imagine how you can inspire those around you to reach higher and complete their own education.”

3. James Franco, Cornell Universtiy 

“Do what you love at least a little bit and if you have to do something else to support what you love, do it.”

4. Amy Poehler, Harvard University 

“Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible…Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers.’ Continue to share your heart with people even if it’s been broken.”

the-most-inspiring-commencement-speeches: amy poehler

5. Bobbi Brown, Fashion Institute of Technology

“Work hard but work smart. Always. Every day. Nothing is handed to you and nothing is easy. You’re not owed anything… No job or task is too small or beneath you. If you want to get ahead, volunteer to do the things no one else wants to do, and do it better. Be a sponge. Be open and learn.”

6. Ellen DeGeneres, Tulane University

“Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means you should follow that… Be true to yourself and everything will be fine.”

the-most-inspiring-commencement-speeches: ellen degenres

7. Hillary Clinton, SUNY 

“Life is not easy for anyone. Sometimes you don’t see the challenges on the outside, but every single one of us has both those and everything that goes on inside as well. Give it your all. Dare to be all you can be.”

8. Oprah Winfrey, Stanford University 

“And how do you know when you’re doing something right? How do you know that? It feels so. What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.”

the-most-inspiring-commencement-speeches: oprah

9. Meryl Streep, Barnard College 

“You know, you don’t have to be famous, you just have to make your mother and father proud of you. And you already have.”

10. Sheryl Sandberg, Berkley University 

“My hope for you is that you can find that gratitude—not just on the good days, like today, but on the hard ones, when you will really need it.”

11. Michelle Obama, Santa Fe Indian School

“I want you to keep pushing forward. Just keep pushing forward. And I want you to reach out and ask for help. I know your teachers tell you that all the time, but please understand that no one gets through college—or life, for that matter—alone. No one. I certainly didn’t.”

the-most-inspiring-commencement-speeches: michlle obama

12. Madeleine Albright, Scripps College

“The challenge for our leaders is not to eliminate the diversity of these perspectives — for that is not possible. The challenge is to manage them — and when necessary, moderate them — so that we are not defined primarily by what keeps us apart.”

13. Will Ferrell, University of Southern California 

“But my fear of failure never approached in magnitude my fear of what if. What if I never tried at all?”

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