In years past, many colleges and universities have posted online the speeches that were given at their commencement ceremonies.
Remarkably, many colleges and universities have done so again this year, even though they have held virtual online commencements. This year’s commencement addresses look different from those of past years. You won’t hear the cheers or laughter of the crowd. Not a single speaker’s hat gets blown off by a sudden gust of wind. But because most of this year’s speeches have been recorded close-up with computer video, they have an intimacy and a directness that can be quite affecting.
We think you will enjoy this varied selection of 2020 commencement speeches, all of which you can watch online.
Cookie Monster’s 2020 Speech to all Graduates
Let’s start with something lighthearted. This speech is less than four minutes in length, and it is a lot of fun because Cookie Monster says that he ate his speech and has to “wing it.” The ability to “wing it,” he points out, is an important life skill.
Quote: “You graduates have all the ingredients for an amazing future, just like the ingredients in a COOKIE!”
President Barack Obama’s Speech to Graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
President Obama’s reassuring tone and simple words offer encouragement to students who are graduating from all colleges in 2020.
Quote: “Even if half this semester was spent at Zoom University, you’ve earned this moment.”
Oprah Winfrey’s Facebook Speech to All 2020 College Graduates
Oprah Winfrey offers encouragement and inspiration to all 2020 graduates in a special speech she created for distribution via Facebook. The overriding theme is about overcoming adversity and building a meaningful life.
Quote: “I know you may not feel like it, but you are indeed the chosen class for a time such as this.”
Melania Trump’s Speech to 2020 Graduates at the White House
The first lady addresses her comments to a group of 2020 graduates at a ceremony that was held in the White House, while many of their proud parents look on.
Quote: “We are all living in unprecedented times, and I am glad to see how each of you has adapted to this new and unprecedented way of life.”
LeBron James’s 2020 Televised Commencement Address
This speech, which was recorded before George Floyd was murdered in Milwaukee, offers insights that seem even more pertinent now.
Quote: “Our schools are our safety net. Our people build our communities.”
Ashton Kutcher’s Commencement Address for the University of Iowa
Actor Ashton Kutcher, a graduate of the University of Iowa, offers his advice on planning a good life.
Quote: “The only thing that got me to where I am today was a willingness to throw out the master plan.”
Alexis Ohanian’s Commencement Address for Johns Hopkins University
Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and a top institutional investor, has been called “The Mayor of the Internet” by Forbes. In this fun and somewhat self-deprecating talk, he outlines attitudes that he feels can build success in a time when all the rules seem to be changing.
Quote: “Your ability to adapt to the ruined dreams of your graduation are the exact skills you need right now.”
Marty Baron’s Commencement Address for Harvard University
Marty Baron, the Executive Editor of The Washington Post, discusses the trends that are now threatening American democracy.
Quote: “Facts and truth are matters of life and death.”
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