Words Of Wisdom From Female Leaders To 2014 Grads

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Group of Graduates
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With graduation season in full swing, students all over the country are poised to receive life advice from commencement addresses given by actors, politicians, CEOs and other cultural influencers. Among this year’s crop of speakers is an impressive group of women, sharing their pearls of wisdom with eager graduates.

Here are a few of our favorite moments so far:

JILL ABRAMSON
Former Executive Editor of The New York Times – Wake Forest University

[Robert Frost] described life after graduating as pieces to go on with. What he meant is that life is always unfinished business. Like the bits of knitting women used to carry around with them to be picked up at different intervals. And for those of you who have never knit, think of it as akin to your Tumblr, something you can pick up from time to time and change … So today, you gorgeous brilliant people, get on with your knitting. – more

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
Former Secretary of State – Dickinson College

…go forward with confidence, despite the burdens handed down to you by others; that you will employ your talents to keep pace with technology – while remembering that there is no technological answer to the questions that matter most. – more

MARY BARRA
General Motors CEO – University of Michigan

It may feel like your have your life mapped out, but I can assure you – things will happen that you simply cannot imagine as you sit here today. Be open to opportunities when they occur – especially in the early part of your career. Each new experience will broaden your skills and perspectives. Embrace them. Enjoy them. And overcome them. But they are the experiences that will make you unique… the milestones that define your life. – more

TORY BURCH
Entrepreneur – Babson College

We may live in an age of instant messaging, instant gratification, and Instagram, but there is no way to short circuit the path to success. It takes hard work, tenacity and patience. – more

KATIE COURIC
Journalist and Television Personality – Trinity College

In order to be successful, you have to be brave enough to try. And to fail. – more

JENNIFER LEE
“Frozen” Screenwriter/Director – University of New Hampshire

When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better. You accept criticism and listen. If I learned one thing, it is that self-doubt is one of the most destructive forces. It makes you defensive instead of open, reactive instead of active. Self-doubt is consuming and cruel and my hope today is that we can all collectively agree to ban it. – more

JANET NAPOLITANO
Former Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity, Pres­i­dent Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia – Northeastern University

It’s not how much [money] you make in life. You don’t go to college so you can punch a clock. The point is making a difference. – more

CECILE RICHARDS
Planned Parenthood President – Barnard College

Life as an activist, troublemaker, agitator, is a tremendous option and one I highly recommend. The world we live in can be tough. It can be unjust. But here’s the great news: Each of you has the power to do something about it. You get to build the world you want to live in. – more

SHERYL SANDBERG
Facebook COO and Author – City Colleges of Chicago

Your life’s course will not be determined by doing the things that you are certain you can do. Those are the easy things. It will be determined by whether you try the things that are hard.Those are the moments where you can have real impact. – more

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER
President of the New America Foundation – Tufts University

As you look forward across your lives, think about today as a day that weaves you all together, that strengthens the very fabric of family. And remember that if that family comes first throughout your life, your work will not come second. Your life will come together. – more

  • gargouille

    I hope we’ve prepared our grads to live up to these wise words. Truth is, if we don’t show them that “there is no technological answers to the questions that matter most” and “there is no way to short circuit the path to success” except good ol’ hard work, then how will they manage it? And I’m not at all clear that current practices in the average college classroom–more online, more personal rather than intellectual response, more technology, including social media, and all of it faster, faster, faster, and more efficient–will teach these crucial life lessons upon which our future leadership and self-governance depends. As a professor, I take this on every day.

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