4 Commencement Speeches You Need to Hear

Commencement season is upon us once again and that means that inspirational leaders from all sectors are gathering at universities across the nation to impart their wisdom on young graduates. This year in particular saw many public servants donning a cap and gown and standing behind the podium at graduation ceremonies.

Fortunately, commencement speeches aren’t just for graduates. We can all learn a thing or two from these experienced public servants. So, for this week’s DorobekINSIDER, we wanted to highlight some of the best commencement speeches from govies.

Here are four commencement speeches from this years’ graduations that we loved:

  1. Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator, California (Howard University)

An alumna of Howard University, Harris focused her speech on the challenges before the new graduates and emphasized the importance of making their voices heard and serving their communities. She also encouraged students to speak up and speak out about injustices that they see in the world around them. Ultimately, her speech was a call to service, encouraging students to embrace public service in their post-graduate lives. Read the full text of the speech here and watch the speech here.

  1. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator, Massachusetts (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)

While Warren’s speech was largely political in nature, she also put post-grad life into context for the graduating students at University of Massachusetts. She explained that she dropped out of college and married the first boy she ever dated at the age of 19 and emphasized that the right path isn’t always as straightforward as one would think. She also encouraged students to get involved with bettering the United States’ democracy and policies, no matter what their path may look like. Read the full text of the speech here and watch it here.

  1. John Lewis, U.S. Congressman, Georgia (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts)

Representative Lewis took a slightly different approach to his speech from other commencement speakers and encouraged graduates to shake up society and be a disruptive force against the status quo. He explained that in their post-grad lives, graduates should get into good trouble and make noise about injustices still occurring in the country. He emphasized that while we have made a lot of progress as a nation, there is still a lot of work to be done. Watch the entire speech here.

  1. Kathryn Thornton, Former Astronaut, NASA (Sweet Briar College)

Similar to Warren, Thornton’s speech also focused on how important this generation of graduates will be to shaping the future of policy. She emphasized the importance of social and scientific progress and how the graduates will soon play an integral role in both fields. Ultimately, she encouraged graduates to slice out their own place in history by remaining actively involved in shaping policy. Watch the full speech here.

Did you see a particularly compelling commencement speech this graduation season that we didn’t mention? Be sure to mention it in the comments!

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Susan Baker

Here is a lovely 2017 commencement speech by Mr. Kevin Gover, Director, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Citizen of Pawnee Tribe of OK, given at For Lewis College.
https://youtu.be/tnErHkrAA2U

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MMH

Hampden-Sydney’s Commencement Speech by Brett Stevens I’d one everyone needs to hear. NYT published it.

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