Life Lessons From Our Favourite Celebrity Graduate Speeches

Before there was TED, there was this


This is the time of year when celebrities of all ilk descend on schools across America to give words of wisdom to graduating seniors. We've rounded up our favourite commencement speeches from years past and present. After hearing these, you’ll probably want to get your Harvard application in the post. 

Michelle Obama

Even though she tackles the hard truths about post-graduate life, the FLOTUS's speech at Oberlin College leaves you feeling optimistic, like you can take on the world — even the 'most contentious, polarized, gridlocked' parts of it.  



Natalie Portman

Following Sheryl Sandberg, who gave the pre-graduation 'Class Day' speech at Harvard last year, Natalie Portman is charming, witty and thoroughly engaging as she talks graduating seniors through the importance of taking risks.

Tina Fey

Tina’s speech at Fieldston School is now the stuff of legend: essential life lessons wrapped up in her perfectly-timed humor. It's Bossy Pants in Vimeo length. And we're here for it. 


Amy Poehler

Yes, a Harvard speech is a rite of passage of sorts for A-list comedians and overall power players. Here, Amy Poehler reminds the school's graduates that 'just because you’re smart, doesn’t mean you’re better than me.'

JK Rowling 

Can Rowling convince graduates to switch their career prospects for wizardry? Watch this (yes!) Harvard ceremony to witness some of Rowling's own magic. Spoiler alert: includes wizard jokes.  

Shonda Rhimes

Shonda exposes her vulnerable side with this captivating speech at Dartmouth. She encourages graduates to ditch dreaming and start doing. Expect a profound reality check.  

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