Suhad Shtayyeh
Amman, May 29, 2018
by Suhad Shtayyeh

Our Favorite 2018 Commencement Speeches

Oprah Winfrey, USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism


“Put your honor where your mouth is. “When you give your word, keep it. Do the work. Get your hands dirty. You build a legacy, not from one thing, but from everything.” She also provided a list of practical tips: “Pay your bills on time, make your bed, put your phone away at the dinner table, and get a good mattress — your back will thank you."

Hilary Clinton, Yale University

“This is a moment to reach across dividers of race, class and politics to try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves, and to return to rational debate,”

Amal Clooney, Vanderbilt University

“I think what will define you is your courage, because that is the virtue on which all others depend. When I look at the world today, I see that courage is needed more than ever. My advice isn’t that you have to be Gandhi or Mandela or Martin Luther King, or that you should be a human rights activist or get jobs where the salary decreases at every turn. There will be moments in your life where two roads diverge in the wood; and when that happens, be courageous.”

Al Gore, University of Maryland

“It is what you decide to do with the obstacles that life throws in your path that matters the most,” going on to share enduring advice from a former teacher. “He said, ‘We all face the same choice in life over and over again. It’s the choice between the hard right and the easy wrong. All of us know if we pause and reflect that there is that little voice that is faint but always there, it is always, always a mistake to ignore that little voice. Listen to it and distinguish it from the constant noise in your rationalizing mind and as you practice you may find it easier to discern the good advice that is always with you.’”

Queen Latifah, Rutgers University

Upon receiving her honorary doctorate, Queen Latifah talked about how she spent time seeking a role model before she rose to fame — only to realize she was wasting her time. I didn’t need a role model. I didn’t need to try to be like someone else. I just needed to be me,” she said. “Class of 2018, you need to keep searching for a role model? No. You are the role model. Now go out there and make a difference. Be that difference.”

Tim Cook, Duke University

“No generation has ever had more power than yours. And no generation has had a chance to change things faster than yours can. I urge you to take the power you have been given and use it for good. Aspire to leave this world better than you found it. I didn’t always see life as clearly as I do now. But I’ve learned the greatest challenge of life is knowing when to break with conventional wisdom.”

Cynthia Nixon, Helene Fuld College of Nursing

“When you stand up with courage, what you can achieve may surprise even you. And that’s what I want to share with you here today: never doubt that you can make a space big enough for yourself in this world.”

Chance the Rapper, Dillard University

“All of us have a responsibility to be greater than the people who came before us… We have a responsibility to be not as good as them or live up to their example, but to actually surpass them, even when it seems scary. We have to overcome that fear and be greater than our role models.”

Michael Keaton, Kent State University

“You have to take risks. I am going to ask you to take risks whenever you can. Put yourself on the line. Don’t be afraid to look foolish. Make mistakes, take chances. It’s one of the best things you can do.”

Chadwick Boseman, Howard University

“When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you.”

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May 29, 2018