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The Best Commencement Speeches of All-Time

Before most students officially graduate and venture out into the real world, there is one last lecture to listen to or commencement address. Since the late 1700s, these speeches have been sources of great inspiration and muse, often given by leading thinkers of the times like John F. Kennedy or even popular celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres. While you only graduate from college once, NPR has been kind enough to collect the Best Commencement Speeches, Ever into a public database of 300 choice quotes (some with corresponding videos) for all to share and enjoy the insights from.

And for anyone who recently graduated, remember the wise words of Conan O’Brien and a few others below:

Today, you have achieved something special, something only 92 percent of Americans your age will ever know: a college diploma. That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over eight percent of the workforce. I’m talking about dropout losers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

rachel-maddow-smith-college-2010

stephen-colbert-northwestern-university-2011

yoko-ono-maine-college-of-art-2003

susan-sontag-wellesley-college-1983

whoopi-goldberg-savannah-college-of-art-and-design-2011

marissa-mayer-illinois-institute-of-technology-2009

aaron-sorkin-syracuse-university-2012

arnold-schwarzenegger-university-of-southern-california-2009

cornel-west-wesleyan-university-1993

denzel-washington-university-of-pennsylvania-2011

dwight-eisenhower-penn-state-1955

ellen-degeneres-tulane-university-2009

franklin-d-roosevelt-oglethorpe-university-1932

larry-page-university-of-michigan-2009

madeleine-albright-harvard-university-1997

sandra-soto-university-of-arizona-2010

john-f-kennedy-american-university-1963

george-saunders-syracuse-university-2013

What was your favorite commencement quote of all-time?

   
 
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