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Graduation quotes to get you going

We did it!

Deborah Moors
May 17, 2017

Speaking of graduation

OK, soon-to-be graduate…this is the time of year that pithy advice and cheesy quotes are popping up on Twitter and Snapchat and Facebook like dandelions in spring.

So, with that acknowledgment, we are happy to present some pithy, cheesy and — just maybe — helpful excerpts from outstanding commencement speeches. Chances are, if you click on the speaker’s name below and go listen to those speeches, you’ll find your own excerpts that speak (or shout, or whisper) to you, wherever you find yourself.

These six quotes will get you started as you head to your next phase, and that’s what commencement speeches and cap-and-gown season are all about: getting started.

So here you go. Enjoy. And if you’re headed up the stairs of a commencement stage to receive your diploma, we’d like to add our congratulations. Well done. What’s next?

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat. Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Tim Minchin, musician and comedian

It’s harder to build than destroy. To build is to engage and change. In jazz, we call progressing harmonies changes. Changes are like obstacles on a speed course. They demand your attention and require you to be present. They are coming...they are here...and then they are gone. It's how life comes. Each moment is a procession from the future into the past, and the sweet spot is always the present. Live in that sweet spot. Be present.

Wynton Marsalis, jazz and classical musician

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.

Alan Alda, actor, director and screenwriter

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.

J.K. Rowling, author

Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.

Nora Ephron, author

You are what some have called "the greatest generation." Not many — but some — so far just me. And I'm counting on you to not make me look like an idiot for saying that. So be great — no pressure. 

Stephen Colbert, writer, comedian and TV host