What is a so-called ‘commencement speech’?

It is a tradition amongst american universities and colleges – to invite important people from the world of politics, business, media and social life – so they can share their experiences, remarks and opinions. Usually a person gives pieces of advice for graduates on their beginning of an adult life – what to follow, what to look for, how to make decisions. But it happens that the invitees are comedians – they mainly amuse the audience on the very last day of their education time. Some people combine both – the make jokes and share their wisdom at the same time.

It’s a shame polish universities don’t have such tradition – maybe it would be worth to think about introducing one?

For the past weeks I’ve watched almost 200 such speeches – and chose, subjectively, 12 that in my opinion are outstanding – whether it is the form, the humor, or the content. I would like to share them with you – in my opinion all of them are worth watching (order is random):


1) Cory Booker (as mayor of Newark, from 2013 a senator), Pitzer College, 2010


2) Maria Shriver (journalist, writer), USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 2012


3) Conan O’Brien (comedian, television host), Darmouth College, 2011


4) Jonathan Safran Foer (writer), Middlebury College, 2013


5) Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!), Illinois Institute of Technology, 2009


6) Jon Lovett (writer, speechwriter for Barack Obama), Pitzer College, 2013


7) Richard Costolo (CEO of Twitter), University of Michigan, 2013


8) Steve Jobs (former CEO of Apple), Stanford University, 2005


9) Denzel Washington (actor, Academy Award winner), University of Pennsylvania, 2011


10) Andy Samberg (comedian), Harvard University, 2012


11) Michael Lewis (ex-banker, financial journalist and writer), Princeton University, 2012


12) Diana Nyad (writer, journalist, swimmer), Middlebury College, 2014