Commencement speakers for the graduating class of 2018 have raised the bar. They inspired, encouraged, and offered valuable life lessons for students. If you missed the speeches, don’t worry: We’ve got this year's highlights here.
Seniors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School got a surprise at their graduation on June 3. One of late-night’s biggest stars, Jimmy Fallon, delivered the commencement speech at the Parkland, Fla., school — where a gunman killed 17 people on Feb. 14. “Choose to move forward. Don’t let anything stop you,” Fallon said.
The moment was bittersweet for graduates. Four of their classmates who would have graduated died during the shooting. Each of their names was called at the graduation ceremony, and family members accepted the diplomas for their lost loved ones. Fallon offered words of encouragement: “When something feels hard, remember that it gets better.” To the school’s activists he heaped praise: “Thank you for your courage and your bravery and for giving amazing speeches I could never possibly live up to.”
Having Oprah Winfrey deliver a speech at your graduation is a big deal! Her last speech at the Golden Globes in January drew national attention and sparked rumors she was considering running in the 2020 presidential election. Twitter went wild praising the media mogul for her powerful words.
On May 11, she spoke to the graduating class of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and her message was just as strong: “Use this moment to encourage you, to embolden you, and to literally push you into the rising of your life.”
When actor Chadwick Boseman, aka Black Panther, took the stage at Howard University, he commanded attention. Not only does he have one of the biggest superhero movies of all time, but he also has the power to really inspire. Boseman delivered his speech on May 12 at his alma mater (he graduated in 2000) and urged students to pursue life with passion and purpose. “Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose,” Boseman said. He ended his inspirational speech with a “Wakanda forever” salute and the words “Howard forever.”
On May 12, Academy Award winner Michael Keaton addressed the graduating class of Kent State University, reminding them to “be yourself.” He then took the opportunity to deliver two very important words: “I’m Batman.” Talk about the perfect ending.