2014 Commencement Speech Round-Up
Graduation season has just wrapped up, and the Good Project has put together a collection of some of our favorite quotes from this year’s commencement speakers. The speakers, coming from fields as vast as politics, sports, business, and the performing arts, all touch on ideas we’ve been supporting and studying here at the Good Project. Collaboration, citizenship, engagement, and discussions about what we value in work all are part of key messages that the speakers impart to graduates as they embark on their new paths. The Good Project congratulates all of the 2014 graduates!
“On every issue, we must follow the evidence where it leads and listen to people where they are. If we do that, there is no problem we cannot solve. No gridlock we cannot break. No compromise we cannot broker.
“The more we embrace a free exchange of ideas, and the more we accept that political diversity is healthy, the stronger our society will be.
– Michael Bloomberg, Harvard University
“Good citizens take an interest in people and issues outside themselves. They understand community, in the sense of seeing their stake in their neighbors’ dreams and struggles as well as their own. They inform themselves about what’s happening in their community. They volunteer. They listen. They take the long view. They vote.
Good citizens don’t just live and work in a community. They build community.” – Governor Deval Patrick, Boston University
“I think the essence of personalization is to start with, you personalize your feelings about yourself. … Personalizing is about respect, trust, and caring. You act in a way that you earn your own respect. Don’t ever fool yourself. You want to trust that you’re doing your best, you’re not going to fool yourself. You’re going to care about what you represent and what people think of you. And then you translate that into the people that you work with, respect, trust and care.” – Tony LaRussa, Washington University in St. Louis
“As you take on new opportunities and challenges, expose them to light. Look at an idea, a choice, or challenge in an unflinching manner. Be open to new ideas. Embrace new experiences. Embrace diversity of thought and people. Embrace light — shine it to spot the flaws in an idea or innovation before your competition does that for you.” – Ellen Kullman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Our day-to-day lives are shaped by the sum of countless inconspicuous acts; acts of sacrifices from generations of anonymous heroes who came before us, acts of love from our parents, acts of kindness from random strangers. Behind every worthwhile human achievement, big or small, there is, at least, one small act of kindness.” – Forest Whitaker, Miami University
“Life doesn’t offer you the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. Opportunities come when you least expect them … Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities — the good ones — are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you. But things happen so fast because our world is changing so much, you have to make decisions without perfect information. You have to make decisions based on the fact that the world is going to continue to change — on the belief that the status quo will be supplanted by something better. ” – Susan Wojcicki, Johns Hopkins University
“…I was dreaming of being Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. And guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up. So one day … I read an article that said—it was in The New York Times—and it said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought I could dream about being Toni Morrison, or I could do.
At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.” – Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth College