- 1 / 10
Tim Cook, George Washington University
To succeed as the CEO of a technology hub, you can’t just follow the beaten path — and Cook knows that. He urged grads not to stand on the sidelines, but rather to face challenges head on. (Did you know risk-takers tend to be happier?)
(Photo: Getty Images/Josh Edelson)
- 2 / 10
George W. Bush, Southern Methodist University
The stresses of working too hard are great. And studies show that students who spend too much time on homework also have higher cortisol levels and worse physical health due to a lack of balance. But the 43rd president of the United States showed — through self-deprecation — that not graduating with a 4.0 is nothing to be ashamed of. (And it’s probably healthier.)
(Photo: Getty Images)
- 3 / 10
Meredith Vieira, Boston University
In her address at BU, Meredith Vieira told soon-to-be grads that she never planned on being a broadcast journalist — and in college found herself as a “lost” English major. But with a reference to the Patriots’ Super Bowl win — and the “left shark’s” halftime performance — she urged creativity, which research links to better mental and physical health.
(Photo: Corbis/Paul A. Hebert)
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- 4 / 10
Mellody Hobson, University of Southern California
“Just add bravery” was just one piece of life advice that the chairman of Dreamworks Animations gave students of USC. But while the esteemed businesswoman is certainly successful in her career, some of her best advice may have been what she urged students to do with their personal lives: find people you’re passionate about. This makes sense: Over and over again research demonstrates that social circles, romantic loves, and friendships play a huge role in not only our mental well-being, but our physical health, too.
(Photo: Corbis/Martin H. Simon)
- 5 / 10
Condoleezza Rice, William & Mary
It’s easy to imagine that a former Secretary of State knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. But Rice told students otherwise, recounting that in college, she switched out of a music major and walked into a diplomacy class trying to figure out what she should do instead. Knowing what you want to do is great — but keeping an open mind means putting yourself out there to any and all opportunities, a trait that most employers find incredibly attractive, research shows.
(Photo: Corbis/Lara Solt)
- 6 / 10
Mark Ruffalo, Dickinson College
Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo didn’t graduate from college —but he didn’t need a degree to tell students that speaking up matters. “’Activist’ is not a dirty word,” he said, adding that fighting for what you love is a must-do. It’s also a healthy habit of the most successful among us.
(Photo: Corbis/James Fassinger)
- 7 / 10
Denzel Washington, Dillard University
One of Hollywood’s most famous faces brought seniors back to a time without the technological perks of 2015. He drove home the idea that just because everything is at our fingertips, doesn’t mean that we’re getting more done. He’s right, too — while tech has its perks, being constantly connected can also hurt your productivity.
(Photo: Corbis/Camilla Morandi)
- 8 / 10
Jimmy Buffett, University of Miami
While wearing shades and flip-flops, Jimmy Buffett discussed both a career of music and passion, but also one of growing sick of hangovers and a life of partying. (He talked about a show in Denver that he could barely finish because he was so hungover.) Buffett re-organized his life to put his health first: “Moderation in all things,” he said.
(Photo: Corbis/Kurt Krieger)
- 9 / 10
Barack Obama, Lake Area Technical Institute
When the President visited South Dakota earlier this month, he became one of only a few presidents to visit all 50 states in a presidency. When he stopped by a technical school in Watertown, SD to deliver its commencement address, he instilled the importance of giving back as you move forward. And while that’s certainly a key aspect of society, the same lesson applies to your health. Studies show that giving back can make you happier — and even help you live longer.
(Photo: Corbis/Ken Cedeno)
- 10 / 10
Katie Couric, University of Wisconsin-Madison
A boost in confidence can help you lose that extra five pounds, shave time off your 5K, muster up the nerves to call that love interest, even get you noticed at work, Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric said to grads at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recalled being a 22-year-old desk assistant and giving a list of ideas to a 20/20 correspondent. Impressed by the action, he later tapped her to be an associate producer on a CNN program — opening the doors to her later career successes.
(Photo: Corbis/Jennifer Mitchell)
Graduation speeches get a bad rap: boring, long, and corny. But sometimes high-profile speakers leave students with more than clichés and high hopes. These commencement addresses touched on more than academics, with words that can help to craft a healthier, happier life.