9 of the All-Time Best Graduation Speeches by Women
The best part of your college graduation day will, of course, be that moment when you’re finally handed that diploma you’ve spent all those late night study sessions working toward. But before you toss your cap up in the air, there’s another crucial element to the ceremony: the commencement speech. They’re inspirational and sometimes funny, and hopefully they’ll leave you will some newfound wisdom you can take with you into grown-up land. Whether you’re preparing for your own college graduation or you’re just looking for a little bit of Friday motivation, here are 9 graduation speeches we love.
1. Amy Poehler, Harvard 2011: There’s nothing Amy Poehler can’t do, and that includes giving a kick-ass graduation speech. The Boston College grad let her humor shine, but sprinkled in some serious moments, too.
Her Standout Quote: “I graduated from Boston College. Which some call the Harvard of Boston. But we all know that Harvard is the Harvard of Harvard. And you can quote me on that.”
2. J.K. Rowling, Harvard 2008: Who wouldn’t want to hear from the woman who created the world of Harry Potter? But she was quite nervous about making the speech, and then she remembered that she couldn’t remember a word of what her graduation speaker said.
Her Standout Quote: “This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard. You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step to self-improvement.”
3. Sheryl Sandberg, Barnard 2011: Though her famous book hadn’t come out yet, it was clear the thoughts were already coming to fruition. Her advice?
Her Standout Quote: “So my heartfelt message is: Don’t leave before you leave. Don’t lean back, lean in. Keep your foot on the gas pedal until the day you have to make a decision. That’s the only way to ensure you even have a decision to make.”
4. Mindy Kaling, Harvard Law School 2014: Her speech to the law school class of this esteemed institution was full of humor, but wise words as well. But mostly humor. We love this line:
Her Standout Quote: “Harvard Law has an incredible number of illustrious alumni. President Barack Obama attended Harvard Law, or so he says. Elle Woods went here, from the trenchant documentary Legally Blonde.”
5. Michelle Obama, Dillard University 2014: She encouraged the graduates to volunteer and start mentoring programs, or to go even bigger and serve on a school board, in Congress, or as president. From her speech to the students in Louisiana:
Her Standout Quote: “We’re the lucky ones, and we can never forget that we didn’t get where we are today all on our own. We got here today because of so many people who toiled and sweat and bled and died for us—people like our parents and grandparents and all those who came before them, people who never dreamed of getting a college education themselves but who worked, and saved, and sacrificed so that we could be here today. We owe them.”
6. Meryl Streep, Barnard College 2010: Man, those Barnard girls get some good speakers! The Academy Award winner spoke of what an exciting time it was for these young women:
Her Standout Quote: “This is your time and it feels normal to you but really there is no normal. There’s only change, and resistance to it and then more change.”
7. Ellen DeGeneres, Tulane University 2009: The talk show host shared some great advice, but did it with her famous sense of humor.
Her Standout Quote: “Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path and by all means you should follow that. Don’t give advice, it will come back and bite you in the ass. Don’t take anyone’s advice. So my advice to you is to be true to yourself and everything will be fine.”
8. Maria Shriver, University of Southern California’s Annenberg School Commencement Ceremony 2012: Shriver spoke about the “power of the pause” to the new communication grads.
Her Standout Quote: “I hope if you learn anything from me today, you learn and remember — the power of the pause. Pausing allows you to take a beat — to take a breath in your life. As everybody else is rushing around like a lunatic out there, I dare you to do the opposite.”
9. Kerry Washington, The George Washington University 2013: Washington, an alum of the school, encouraged everyone to be the author of their own script.
Her Standout Quote: “When you leave here today and commence the next stage of your life, you can follow someone else’s script, try to make choices that will make other people happy, avoid discomfort, do what is expected, and copy the status quo. Or you can look at all that you have accomplished today and use it as fuel to venture forth and write your own story. If you do, amazing things will take shape.”
Who was your favorite speaker from this list? Share with us in the comments below.
Pocket doors are so delightful in and of themselves. They appear when you need them, get tucked away when you don't, and make it easy to define rooms while keeping an open floor plan. Add to the pocket door a joyful patterned wallpaper surprise, and you will be sent right into fits of visual jubilation! Or something ;) Today we're sharing two simple and impactful pocket door makeovers that zhuzh up your space in a jiffy.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and proud owner of several pocket doors! When I moved into my first real grown-up house a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to incorporate wallpaper so reached out to our friends at Chasing Paper to see how we might collaborate. It felt like a total lightbulb moment when I realized I could create a surprise pop of pattern on a couple sets of pocket doors.
Not only is it a whimsical way to bring color into a space, but the doors double as picture-perfect backdrops for all your SFH (selfies from home, obvs).
A few pro tips about install:
- Removable wallpaper is miraculously forgiving! You can take it on and off multiple times without it losing integrity (or mucking up your surface).
- I ordered this adhesive wallpaper installation kit with a squeegee and xacto knife and it worked super well. I also recommend a sharp pair of scissors for cutting longer lines.
- This is a two-person job! Get a friend, put on a playlist, and get ready to bond.
- Wild, organic patterns like Tally are great because it's challenging to spot any imperfections in pattern alignment; keep pattern choice in mind if you've got a lot of corners to match up. More geometric patterns and larger shapes leave less room for error (but are awesome in their own right!).
BATHROOM POCKET DOORS
In our primary bathroom, we chose the wallpaper pattern Tally, designed by Kelly Ventura, in White and Navy. In our space, the navy reads as a soft black, which is perfect for the space. It's easy to combine an ever-rotating collection of linens with the Tally pattern.
I love how the white trim becomes the perfect frame around this pocket door piece of art.
My favorite moment in this space is the fact that you actually get a third pop of pattern thanks to our serendipitously placed mirror!
And yes, this one works pretty darn well as a backdrop too ;)
LIVING ROOM DOUBLE DOORS
This set of doors is definitely a focal point of our home. It separates our living room from our primary bedroom which opens onto our backyard. The doors are pretty much always open, but when they're closed we wanted to evoke a fun, nature-inspired vibe. With that in mind, we selected the Lines and Moons pattern by Thimblepress in Green and Brown.
Earth mama vibes up in here! I love how the shapes and colors echo the ferns you see through the windows and the acorn wood details throughout the house.
Love this pattern moment, and xacto-ing out the door handle is def on the oddly satisfying DIY list.
For a pattern lover like me, I love that now I have this instant photo backdrop!
Thanks to Chasing Paper for providing these rolls of pure pattern amazingness. Head to chasingpaper.com to find our own favorites and start adding patterns to your home!
(Wallpaper wingwoman: Kayla Haykin; Photography: Kurt Andre)