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Celebrity Commencement Speeches That Make You Want To Go To School

August 13th, 2014

Commencement Speeches

I know, I know, I said the word ‘school’ in August. Even if you never have to see smelly teachers and their dirty looks again, the dreaded ‘school’ also means the days of summer are limited. First off, get outside. Secondly, when you come back inside, get a big ol dose of inspiration from these amazing Commencement speeches.

Some of them made us think (real talk Jim Carrey, real talk), some made us cry (dammit Charlie Day) and some made us laugh (Kween Kaling FTW). But all of them made us want to go back to school, at least for the last day.

Celebrity: Jim Carrey
School: Maharishi University of Management
Best Piece of Advice: “My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that was possible for him. So he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

Celebrity: Stephen Colbert
School: Northwestern University, 2011
Best Piece of Advice: “Dreams can change. If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed, and you’re not some loser. But just as importantly — and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to — if you do get your dream, you are not a winner.”

Celebrity: President Barack Obama
School: Barnard College, 2012
Best Piece of Advice: “Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Celebrity: Ed Helms
School: Knox College, 2013
Best Piece of Advice: “Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.”

Celebrity: Lewis Black
School: University of California, 2013
Best Piece of Advice: “You are now entering a world that’s filled to the brim with idiots. Since there are so many idiots out there, you actually may start to think you’re crazy. You are not. They are idiots.”

Celebrity: Amy Poehler
School: Harvard University, 2011
Best Piece of Advice: “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. Find a group of people who challenge and inspired you, spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own.”

Celebrity: Charlie Day
School: Merrimack College, 2014
Best Piece of Advice: “You cannot let a fear of failure, or a fear of comparison, or a fear of judgement stop you from doing what’s going to make you great. You cannot succeed without this risk of failure, you cannot have a voice without the risk of criticism and you cannot love without the risk of loss. You must go out and take these risk. Do what’s uncomfortable, and scary, and hard, but pays off in the long run. Be willing to fail. Let yourself fail. Fail in the way and the place where you would want to fail. Fail, pick yourself up and fail again. Because without this struggle, what is your success anyway?”

Celebrity: Mindy Kaling
School: Harvard Law, 2014
Best Piece of Advice: “Celebrities give too much advice and people listen to it too much. Most of us have no education whatsoever. Who should be giving advice and the answer is people like you. You are better educated and you are going to go out into the world and people are going to listen to what you say, whether you are good or evil, and that probably scares you because some of you look really young. And I’m afraid a couple of you probably are evil. That’s just the odds.”

Celebrity: J.K. Rowling
School: Harvard University, 2008
Best Piece of Advice: “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected. The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.”

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