Wisdom//

The Best Life Advice from 2018 Commencement Speeches

Steal some wisdom from these brilliant minds.

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The Class of 2018 had some amazing commencement speakers, and we’ve collected their best insights so you can gain inspiration no matter your age. Whether you’re graduating this year, or even if your own commencement happened years ago, you’ll still be able to score valuable life advice from speakers like Tim Cook, Amal Clooney, Chadwick Boseman, and more.

Tim Cook at Duke University

“Fearlessness means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where it will take you. It means being driven by a higher purpose, rather than by applause. It means knowing that you reveal your character when you stand apart, more than when you stand with the crowd. If you step up, without fear of failure… if you talk and listen to each other, without fear of rejection… if you act with decency and kindness, even when no one is looking, even if it seems small of inconsequential, trust me, the rest will fall into place.”

Chadwick Boseman at Howard University

“Invest in the importance of the moment and cherish it. Savor the tastes of your triumph today. Don’t just swallow the moment whole without digesting what is actually happening.”

Amal Clooney at Vanderbilt University

“Character traits like persistence, ambition, inquisitiveness, and grit will determine your success. However, the thing that will define you as a person is your courage. That is the virtue on which all others depend. We need young people with the courage to say this is our world now, and there are going to be some changes. Be courageous. Challenge orthodoxy. Stand up for what you believe in. When you are in your rocking chair talking to your grandchildren many years from now, be sure you have a good story to tell.”

George Hill at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

“Create a vision for your life. Set small goals preparing for something greater… Believe in yourself every minute of every day. You are enough, so speak to yourself with the most wonderful and positive words.”

Chance the Rapper at Dillard University

“All of us have a responsibility to be greater than the people who came before us. We have a responsibility to be not as good as them or live up to their example but to actually surpass them, even when it seems scary. We have to overcome that fear and be greater than our role models.”

Oprah Winfrey at USC

“Eat a good breakfast. Pay your bills on time. Recycle. Make your bed. Aim high. Say thank you to people, and really mean it. Ask for help when you need. And put your phone away at the dinner table.”

Jake Tapper at University of Massachusetts – Amherst

“Be nice to each other. Embrace the humanity of everyone, especially those you don’t understand… Telling someone how you feel politely instead of just avoiding them for six weeks — that’s the stuff of adulthood. When you rise to the moment to embrace the humanity of everyone, you give yourself a chance to grow and achieve a strength of character.”

Ronan Farrow at Loyola Marymount University

“Right now, we are surrounded by a culture that tells us to take the easy way out, that tries to tip the scales in favor of getting paid rather than protesting, that tells us to kill the story instead of poking the bear, a culture that tells us not to trust that voice that says to fight. And the reason the culture sends us that message is that we look around and we see people taking the easy way out — doing the immoral thing, or the selfish thing — and being rewarded. And it’s easy to conclude that’s just the way the world works. So here’s what I would say to you. No matter what you choose to do, no matter what direction you go, whether you’re a doctor treating refugees or a financier making money off of foreclosures — and I genuinely hope you don’t do that — you will face a moment in your career where you have absolutely no idea what to do. Where it will be totally unclear to you what the right thing is for you, for your family, for your community. And I hope in that moment you’ll be generous with yourself, but trust that inner voice. Because more than ever we need people to be guided by their own senses of principle, and not the whims of a culture that prizes ambition, sensationalism, celebrity, and vulgarity, and doing whatever it takes to win. Because if enough of you listen to that voice, if enough of you prove that this generation isn’t going to make the same mistakes as the one before, then doing the right thing won’t seem as rare, or as hard, or as special.”

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