6 Commencement Speeches That Will Give You Hope For Life After School

Here comes graduation day, and as you step onto that auditorium stage to shake the Dean’s hand at your commencement ceremony, it could very well be the proudest moment of your life this far. All that hard work has paid off and congratulations, you’ve made it!

So what now? Unless you’re in a profession like law or medicine that comes with a well-trodden path of advancement, chances are you’re just as anxious and uncertain about the future like the rest of us.

But before you panic, we’ve put together some of the most inspiring and insightful advice from commencement speeches by the brightest minds mankind has to offer, who returned to school to share their thoughts with the next generation.

From Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg to world-famous businessman Jack Ma, you’ll hear how they struck out, failed, and picked themselves up again stronger and wiser than ever before.

Life outside the bubble of academia isn’t going to be smooth sailing, but there’s also places to visit, people to meet and much to learn. Have hope!

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, on the power of the imagination

Speaking at Harvard University’s commencement ceremony in 2008, Rowling said: “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, on persistence, optimism and embracing change.

At the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Jack Ma speaks of persisting in your dreams, staying positive in times of adversity, and advises the graduates not to be afraid of change.


Neil Gaiman, fantasy fiction author, on making mistakes

The writer behind The Sandman graphic novels and best-seller American Gods, urged the class of 2012 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia to make mistakes. “And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, commencement speech, on resilience.

The first woman to earn a spot on the Facebook board of directors, Sheryl Sanderg talks about life, love and loss, all the while stressing the need for the 2017 graduates of Virginia Tech to be resilient in times of trouble.

Madam Halimah Yacob, First female Speaker of Parliment, on giving back to society and the goodness of people.

At 16, Madam Yacob was advised by a teacher to take up stenography. The teacher told her very seriously that as a girl, she must be able to type well. Mdm Yacob decided then that her gender would not be a stumbling block for her. She defied the odds and became SIngapore’s first female Speaker of Parliment.

Dame Helen Mirren, Actress, on Helen’s top 5 rules on living a happy life.

“Whether you’re in the French Quarter or the Oval Office, no good can ever come from tweeting at 3 a.m.”