Best Commencement Speeches: Words of Wisdom by Influential Women from the Media

Every student looks forward to the day that they are finally able to shout to the world “I DID IT!” This time of the year brings us back to the moment when we were finally recognized for our efforts in school. Whether you’re a graduate this year or not, it’s always fun to be inspired by the brilliant commencement speeches, especially those delivered by honorary guests. Since it’s that season, we have been seeing a lot of inspiring commencement videos in our social media feeds. Here are some of the best ones that are delivered by some of the influential women that we love!

Oprah Winfrey Harvard Commencement Speech at Harvard Commencement 2013

By Bill Ebbesen (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [CC BY 3.0(], via Wikimedia Commons

“From time to time you may stumble, fall, you will for sure, count on this, no doubt, you will have questions and you will have doubts about your path. But I know this, if you’re willing to listen to, be guided by, that still small voice that is the G.P.S. within yourself, to find out what makes you come alive, you will be more than okay. You will be happy, you will be successful, and you will make a difference in the world.” - Oprah Winfrey

Watch Video

J.K. Rowling Speaks at 2008 Harvard Commencement

Daniel Ogren [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”- J.K. Rowling

Watch Video

Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane's 2009 Commencement Speech

By Tulane Public Relations [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“But my idea of success is different today. And as you grow, you’ll realize the definition of success changes. For many of you, today, success is being able to hold down 20 shots of tequila. For me, the most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and not to give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not, to live your life as an honest and compassionate person, to contribute in some way. So to conclude my conclusion, follow your passion, stay true to yourself.” - Ellen DeGeneres

Watch Video

Harvard University 2011 Class Day Speech by Amy Poehler

By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“All I can tell you today is what I have learned. What I have discovered as a person in this world. And that is this: you can't do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people's ideas are often better than your own.” - Amy Poehler

Watch Video

Natalie Portman Harvard Commencement Speech at the Harvard Commencement 2015

John Steven Fernandez [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“Achievement is wonderful when you know why you’re doing it. And when you don’t know, it can be a terrible trap.”- Natalie Portman

Watch Video

P.S. Sending our warmest regards to all the graduates this year! We hope you were inspired by these speeches as much as we have been.