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Get Inspired: 7 of edX’s Favorite Graduation Speeches

Commencement speeches are an iconic symbol of graduations, and continue to inspire people around the world years after they’re delivered. As part of our Global Graduation celebration, we asked the edX team to share a few of their favorites. Enjoy!

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1. J.K. Rowling, Harvard 2008

“I love her focus on the importance of imagination and her call to us all to imagine a better world and work together to achieve it.”

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.” – J.K. Rowling

2. Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts 2012

“Valuable, practical advice for all people (particularly for those who may consider themselves overly pragmatic).”

3. Mindy Kaling, Dartmouth 2018

“Mindy’s ability to be honest and real in her own experiences, while being able to make people on the verge of an uncertain future truly laugh, resonates with me now more than ever. She inspires us to be better and do better in a world that we can’t always control.”

“I’ll tell you my secret, the one thing that keeps me going, my superpower: delusion.” – Mindy Kaling

4. Steve Jobs, Stanford 2009

“I had the great fortune to meet Steve several times; given how the speech ends, it was very poignant when copies were distributed at his memorial.”

5. Sheryl Sandberg, UC Berkeley 2016

“In her speech Sheryl shares ‘not everything that happens to us happens because of us.’ True now more than ever!”

6. Charlie Day, Merrimack College 2014

“This speech is both funny and inspiring—it has stories, jokes, faculty members looking uncomfortable at certain points, and genuinely good advice.”

“Be willing to fail. Let yourself fail. Because without this struggle, what is your success anyway?” – Charlie Day

7. Bonus! Christoph Niemann, How To Face the Three Fears Every Creative Faces

“Not a graduation speech technically, but really good advice for people heading out into their careers.”