10 Commencement 2019 Speeches From Women Leaders To Inspire You
You may have attended a commencement speech this season for a friend, son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, parent or partner. Sometimes the speeches are full of inspiration and sometimes the speeches fall flat. Especially if the speaker is trying to be funny. And isn’t.
So you don’t have to sit through the ceremony or sift through a written script, Take The Lead has taken note of some of the best commencement speeches from women leaders we revere and respect this graduation season.
So settle in for wisdom without the pomp and circumstance. We hope you agree that these insights are helpful and you can take some of this advice to heart. Even if you don’t inscribe the sentiment on a building—or a pillow.
Stacey Abrams, lawyer, at American University School of Public Affairs: “Hear me clearly: Do not edit your desires. You are here in this space, you are entering this world to want what you want, regardless of how big the dream. You may have to get there in stages, you may stumble along the way, but the journey is worth the work. And do not allow logic to be an excuse for setting low expectations.”
Kristen Bell, actress at University of South California School of Dramatic Arts: “When you listen as fiercely as you want to be heard, when you respect the idea that you are sharing the Earth with other humans, and when you lead with your nice foot forward, you will win, every time. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but it comes back to you when you need it. We live in an age of instant gratification, of immediate likes, and it is uncomfortable to have to wait to see the dividends of your kindness, but I promise you it will appear exactly when you need it.”
Jennifer Garner, actress, at Dennison College: “There is no moment when you’re just supposed to be happy. While you wait for those moments, while you wait for the perfect job, the MCAT score, the engagement ring, your life is happening. And isn’t it enough? Happiness is your own responsibility, so attack it…When it comes to Halloween costumes, go funny over sexy. Why would you dress like a flirty nurse, when you could be a mailbox?”
Savannah Guthrie, Today show anchor, at George Washington University: “I can’t tell you where your dream is. Only you know that. But I can tell you where it isn’t. It isn’t in your comfort zone. It isn’t in your wheelhouse. It’s not where you feel safe. It’s not where conditions are perfect. It is not where you are usually right and rarely challenged. Your blossoming and your growth — which is to say, your success — is always, always, inevitably, on the other side of a risk. It’s on the other side of a bold choice. It’s on the edge, waiting for you, on the other side of your fear.”
Katie Holmes, actress, at University of Toledo: “Mark Twain said that traveling was fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. We live in a country where we have so many options, and for so many people in the world, our worst days would almost be a dream come true for them. Try to continue your education for yourself on your own terms. So keep your passports updated.”
Cyndi Lauper, musician, Northern Vermont University: “Life is going to give you a bad turn. It’s a test. It’s just a test. And look at all the tests you passed just to get here.”
Hilde Kate Lysiak, 12-year-old editor and founder of Orange Street News, at West Virginia University: “As someone who developed a devoted readership that spans all across the world, I have a few ideas on how we can create a bright future:
1. Keep your ledes tight.
2. Talk to real people.
3. Trust no one.
4. Get away from your desk.
5. Always bring a pencil…pens stop working when it gets cold outside.
6. Don’t forget who you work for. (The public)
7. Ignore the comments.
8. Don’t forget a reporter’s superpower. (Fact and truth)
9. Don’t mix politics and reporting.”
Julie Sweet, CEO of North America at Accenture, at McCombs School of Business: “I urge you to see yourself as leaders starting now…Leadership is not about the role you have in a company or whether you are CEO… it is the mindset you have, the responsibility you choose to take and the way you act every day. That is what makes a leader. I’d like to take the next 10 minutes or so to share three important moments in my career…and the three enduring lessons they taught me … about leadership.”
Tara Westover, author, at Northeastern University: “Online, no one has acne or dark circles or a temper; no one washes dishes, does laundry or scrubs toilets. Mostly, we brunch. … But sometimes I think that when we deny what is worst about ourselves, we also deny what is best. …We forget that it is our flawed human self, and not our avatar, who creates things and reconsiders and forgives and shows mercy.”
Oprah Winfrey, entrepreneur, at Colorado College: “Success in terms of achieving objectives, in terms of manifesting a mission, in terms of manifesting a vision ― that’s all good, especially if what you do can create good in the world. But to the extent that you start to define yourself through traditional measures of success, to the extent that that’s your source of self-esteem, you’re destined to be unhappy because you cannot control it.”