These 7 Inspiring Commencement Speeches Will Have Any Scholar Reaching For The Stars

Candid words to prepare graduates for real life.

It's the time of year when "Pomp and Circumstance" is the song of the day for many high school and college graduates. What better way to send thousands of young hopefuls into the world than to hear an inspiring commencement speech from a highly recognizable individual such as Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon?

If anyone can share their story of perseverance, resilience, and success, it's this group of celebrities who humbly took the stage with hundreds and thousands of young eyes staring at them waiting to hear words of determination, strength, and confidence. It sets the stage for what life can bring and gives graduates a solid ground to take their first steps of grown-up life.

Here are some of the most inspiring, funny, and candid commencement speeches celebs have had to offer:

1. Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon may be known for his late-night comedic presence on television, but he's also got a few life lessons to share as well. "You're not the future. You're the present," he told the graduating class Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a school shooting claimed the lives of 17 people in February. With the tragedy still looming, Fallon did his best to deliver messages of hope with touches of comedic flare.

"Today you are graduating from high school. You should feel incredibly proud of yourselves," he told the students. "That doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels — or your yannys."

2. Jimmy Kimmel

Another late-night TV Jimmy that knows a thing or two about laughter decided to pull in his celebrity friends for an "all-purpose, all-star graduation speech that is 100 percent guaranteed to position you for success in life."

Kimmel gathered friends such as Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Jada Pinkett Smith to deliver a collective speech filled with advice for graduates like, "Never give up, unless it's hard."

3. Will Ferrell

For funnyman Will Ferrell, reciting a commencement speech is soooo yesterday. Instead, he decided to serenade the graduating class at his alma mater, the University of Southern California.

His rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" may just go down in history as the most heartfelt delivery of that classic ballad.

"Just think of the support you have from this great Trojan family," Ferrell told the graduates about embracing the good and the bad times they will surely face. "And imagine me, literally picture my face, singing this song gently into your ear."

He then belted out the Houston classic as if it were his own.

4. Oprah Winfrey

Your life will be pretty set after you heed the words of Oprah Winfrey. The media mogul spoke to the graduates of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and shared stories of the good, the bad, and the ugly truths of life. But what it all comes down to is leaving a legacy behind that you're truly proud to share with the next generation.

"When you give your word, keep it. Show up. Do the work. Get your hands dirty. And then you'll begin to draw strength from the understanding that is still being written," she said. "You're writing it every day. The wheels still spin. And what you do or what you don't do will be a part of it. You will build a legacy not from one thing but from everything."

5. Michelle Obama

If there's anyone who can uplift a community that's been hit by tragedy, it's former First Lady Michelle Obama. "You are rewriting the story of our communities," she told the 2015 graduating class of King College Prep High School on the South Side of Chicago, one of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods.

Following the untimely death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was fatally shot while at a park on the South Side, Obama urged the students to use the tragedy as inspiration to change the deadly streets in the Windy City.

"Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you," she said. "Let them make you even hungrier to succeed."

6. Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg got right to the point when addressing the graduating class of the University of California, Berkeley: "The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events of our lives," the Facebook chief operating officer said.

Following the unexpected loss of her husband Dave Goldberg, Sandberg knew a thing or two about resiliency and facing the hardships life will undoubtedly bring.

"Not everything that happens to us happens because of us," she told the scholars.

7. Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton wasn't going to sugarcoat anything for her alma mater Wellesley College when addressing the graduating class. It's no secret that she's been through a few things in recent years, with the whole world watching. So, instead of letting the politician in her lead the commencement speech, she spoke from the heart and confessed that through some of the toughest moments following her presidential election loss, "Chardonnay helped a little too."

"I believe with all my heart that the future of America — indeed, the future of the world — depends on brave, thoughtful people like you insisting on truth and integrity right now, every day," she said, alluding to America under the new administration. "You didn't create these circumstances, but you have the power to change them."


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