It's taken four years to earn that degree, so let's celebrate that graduation. This bundle collects famous speeches and commencement addresses from some of the greatest thinkers in modern U.S. history.
For Tulane University’s 2018 commencement, Jesmyn Ward delivered a stirring speech about the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others. Speaking about the challenges she and her family overcame, Ward inspired everyone in the audience with her meditation on tenacity in the face of hardship. Ward’s moving words will inspire readers as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives, whether, like Ward, they are the first in their families to graduate from college or are preceded by generations, or whether they are embarking on a different kind of journey later in life.
From an icon of popular culture, here is inspiring advice for artists, graduates, and all who seek happiness and success on their own terms. When John Waters delivered his gleefully subversive advice to the graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design, the speech went viral, in part because it was so brilliantly on point about making a living as a creative person. Now we can all enjoy his sly wisdom in a manifesto that reminds us, no matter what field we choose, to embrace chaos, be nosy, and outrage our critics.
Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in This is Water. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.