Graduation Speeches: Notable Commencement Speeches That Inspire - Rolling Stone
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Commencement Speeches That Never Fail to Inspire

From Will Ferrell and Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama and David Foster Wallace, these speakers deftly sent graduates out into the world

(L-R) Will Ferrell, Oprah Winfrey, David Foster Wallace

David Fisher/Shutterstock; Chelsea Lauren/Variety/Shutterstock; Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Whether or not certain musicians, actors, politicians and entrepreneurs have completed college, they’re often asked to deliver commencement speeches at small liberal-arts schools, state colleges and prestigious Ivy league institutions alike. If they accept, their task is simple: Convey a message of  humor, pathos, wisdom and humility, and above all, use this opportunity to collect an honorary diploma in case they need something to fall back on.

As the nation’s collective Class of 2014 collects their diplomas, we’ve selected a handful of celebrity orations from the previous 20 graduation years that  have made us giggle, tear up or want to go get ’em. −By Kenny Herzog

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