Commencement 2013: Words Of Wisdom From Leading Women

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With graduation season in full swing, students all over the country are receiving life advice from commencement addresses given by titans of industry, political leaders, celebrities and cultural influencers alike. Among this year’s luminary speakers are an impressive group of women, who are dispensing their wise words of wisdom and sharing advice with eager graduates.

Here are some of the most notable.

Madeleine Albright, Bowdoin College

“You may believe that the class of 2013, more than any other, has been given a raw deal. To those of you who feel that way, I offer my deepest sympathy and also three words of advice: Get over it. No one likes a whiner and besides, every generation has its burdens.”

Julie Andrews, University of Colorado-Boulder

“Keep learning as you go. Acknowledge that there will be fear and adversity. Then go out and kick butt.”

Melinda Gates, Duke University

“I don’t want you to connect, for connection’s sake alone. I want you to connect because it will inspire you to do something. To take action. To make a difference in the world. Humanity in the abstract will never inspire you the way meeting another human being will. Poverty is not going to inspire you to do something, but meeting people – that will inspire you.”

gabrielle-giffords-mark-kellyGabrielle Giffords, Bard College

With the help of her husband Mark Kelly, Giffords told graduates “Starting tomorrow you can change the world. The nation’s counting on you to create, to lead, to innovate, but today we are celebrating you. Be bold, be courageous, be your best.”

Arianna Huffington, Smith College

“What I urge you to do is lead the third women’s revolution… It’s time for a third metric, beyond money and power, founded on well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back – success the way we’ve defined it – it’s no longer sustainable for human beings, for the planet.”

Annie Lennox, Berklee College of MusicAnnie_Lennox_Bard

“Wherever you think you’re heading right now, you might turn out to take a completely different route down a completely different path. What looks like an ending might actually be the start of a new beginning.”

Michelle Obama, Bowie State

“Be that flame of fate, that torch of truth to guide our young people toward a better future for themselves and for this country.”

Sheryl Sandberg

“Let’s start encouraging women to lead in whatever field they choose. And let’s all – men and women – support women as they do it. You can turn the promise of equality into true equality. You are the hope for a brighter future.”

Ms. Sandberg posted her message to graduates in a blog on Huffington Post

Kerry-Washington-commencement-speech-at-GWUKerry Washington, GW University

“In every culture and in every moment of human existence, the ritual of storytelling has been a central tenet of our experience, because it is through stories that we understand ourselves and each other. As we journey along with the hero of any story, we realize that we, too, are the lead characters of our own lives… The adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.”

Oprah Winfrey, Harvard

“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

  • Jean B.

    I would love to have heard both Oprah’s and Annie Lennox’s full speeches, but suffice to say here that I love their quotes shown above. Great stuff!

    • WYSK

      Hi Jean,
      You can view or read the commencement addresses by clicking on the link of the school listed next to each woman’s name.

      • Jean

        Thanks WYSK. I didn’t realize I could do that because I did not click on the links. I will listen now.

  • Lily

    A little tough love from Madeleine Albright, but soooo true!