With it being early June, most graduations are now history.  Regardless, it is worth reading, watching, or listening to the many commencement speeches (past and present) to gain insight.

I still remember my undergraduate college graduation many years ago.  Without providing too many details, we were able to enter the stadium through the tunnel typically reserved for the football players.  We sat in the stands and listened to “Uncle Walter.”  For those that do not know the term, our commencement speaker was Walter Cronkite, the American broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–1981).

Just recently, I learned that a professional colleague, Grace Kim, provided the commencement speech for the Washington State University (WSU) School of Architecture.

Grace Kim – Washington State University School of Architecture 2021 Commencement Address

“Today marks the end of your formal architectural education. However, it is not the end by any measure. In fact, you are at the beginning of an exciting journey: Chapter One of your professional careers.”

After discussing her own career path, she shared the following sentiments.

“I have found that you reap what you sow.

Put out into the world the good you want to do. The universe will answer with opportunities, connections, and sometimes just breadcrumbs to lead you there.”

She continued to outline the many opportunities before the graduates.

“There is much to accomplish. And YOU have the skills.” … It is time for you to start writing the next chapters of your life. Congratulations!”

Certainly, in my humble opinion, an inspiring speech that challenges.


But, I must confess that one of the most memorable commencement speeches was by the following:

Admiral William H. McRaven – University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address

During the speech, Admiral McRaven provides ten lessons to change the world; of course, some will not make sense unless you listen to the speech.  Another route is to read his book, Make Your Bed inspired by the speech.

Ten lessons to Change the World

  • Make your Bed
  • Find someone to help you paddle
  • Measure people by the size of their heart not their flippers
  • Get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward
  • Do not be afraid of the circuses
  • Slide down the obstacles headfirst
  • Do not back down from the sharks
  • You must be your very best in the darkest moments
  • Start singing when you are up to your neck in mud
  • Don’t ever, ever ring the bell

There are other commencement speeches as well to watch – listen; in particular one to watch is the following.

Steve Jobs – Stanford University 2005 Commencement Address

I will let this one stand one its own merits.


So, take the time to read, watch, and / or listen to these commencement speeches and others for inspiration.


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