Inspiring Commencement Speeches 2012

Year after year, commencement speakers face crowds of graduates and offer words of wisdom, reassurance, and reminders of the difficult challenges ahead, and this year was no different. Speakers ranged from Barack Obama and Condoleeza Rice to Andy Samburg and Aaron Sorkin. College graduates were given a final speech of encouragement before heading out into "the real world."

As you begin the process of applying to college, it is easy to lose sight of the end of the journey. Applications involve lots of work and often times an unnecessary amount of stress, but the light at the end of the tunnel – college – makes it all worthwhile. Starting a new chapter can also be scary – something that almost every college commencement speaker acknowledges. As high school comes to a close, here are some noteworthy quotes to think about as you start exploring where your path may take you after high school:

Wendy Kopp, Dartmouth College: "We have to check ourselves every day and ask 'Is the net force of what I'm doing building up or tearing down?'"

Aaron Sorkin, Syracuse University: "Every once in a while you'll succeed. Most of the time you'll fail, and most of the time the circumstances will be well beyond your control."

Michael Lewis, Princeton University: "Recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck, and with luck comes obligation."

Ira Glass, Goucher College: "We don't know. We lurch forward in our lives, we try this, we try that, we make the best guesses that we can, based on what we believe at the time."

Barney Frank, Harvard College: "What good are a set of ideals that are unrealized? Make sure that you are pragmatic in the service of your idealism."

Corey A. Booker, Bard College: "I believe in my heart of hearts that it is better to have your ship sunk at sea than to have it rot in the harbor."  

Click here to hear their inspiring speeches.

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