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Home Centennial College Blog 2015 June 11 Best of the best: Convocation speeches to inspire, motivate and bring you to tears

Best of the best: Convocation speeches to inspire, motivate and bring you to tears (in a funny way)

Picture of three females celebrating at Centennial College's convocation ceremony 2015.

It’s that time again, when thousands of grads are ready to head out into the world, equipped with a shiny-new set of credentials and a go-getter attitude. And if you’re one of them, congratulations! You’ve worked hard to get to where you are. You learned how to do 16,000 things at one time, pulled an incredible number of all-nighters and realized you can’t live off beer and pizza alone.

It’s also that time of year when some of the most profoundly inspiring words of wisdom are bestowed upon fresh minds, as well as some of the most hilarious. Our own president Ann Buller presented some of the most poignant words to our future leaders.  So without further ado, here’s our collection of some of the best convocation speeches:

Ann Buller (2015) – “Courage is not about climbing Mount Everest. It’s about being true to you. It’s about holding onto what’s right and holding on to the good in the darkest of the night. It’s about holding the hand that needs held, holding close the weary and the worn. Standing to fight a battle you might lose because there’s simply too much at stake. I wish for you the integrity to make the tough choices and the courage to ask others to stand with you.”

Steve Jobs (2005) – “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love.”

Will Ferrell (2003) – “You’re about to enter into a world filled with hypocrisy and doublespeak, a world in which your limo to the airport is often a half-hour late. In addition to not even being a limo at all; often times it’s a Lincoln Town car. You’re about to enter a world where you ask your new assistant, Jamie, to bring you a tall, non-fat latte and he comes back with a short soy cappuccino. Guess what, Jamie? You’re fired.”

Oprah Winfrey (2013) – “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise. At some point you are bound to stumble because if you’re constantly doing what we do, raising the bar, if you’re constantly pushing yourself higher, the law of averages not to mention the Myth of Icarus predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

Ellen Degeneres (2009) – “Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path and by all means you should follow that. Don’t give advice, it will come back and bite you in the ass. Don’t take anyone’s advice. So my advice to you is to be true to yourself and everything will be fine.”

Lewis Black (2013) – “You are already years ahead of us socially. You have all the information that mankind has gathered right in your pocket in your phone. Now use that information to find the facts to make a better world than the one we have today … You matter. You are important. Get the job done and remember to take care of each other.”

Sean Combs (2014) – “I want you to take the craziest dream in your head – the dream that you’re too embarrassed to tell anyone else about, and I want you to go after it.”

Natalie Portman (2015) – “Just starting out, one of your biggest strengths is not knowing how things are supposed to be. You can compose freely because your mind isn’t cluttered ... You don’t take for granted the way things are. The only way you know how to do things is your own way.”

Michelle Obama (2015) – “I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves.  I want you to ask those basic questions:  Who do you want to be?  What inspires you?  How do you want to give back?  And then I want you to take a deep breath and trust yourselves to chart your own course and make your mark on the world.”

Jane Lynch (2012) – “In order for our lives to go forward, in order to engage fully in life, we need to be willing and able to accept what is right in front of us. Whatever it is, the good, the bad, the thrilling, the heartbreaking, every emotion, occurrence, event, person, place or thing, you will experience them all.”

Conan O’Brien (2011) – “My first job as your commencement speaker is to illustrate that life is not fair. Deal with it.”

By Ashley Breedon