The Best Graduation Quotes: Speeches from Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, and More

Get inspiration to make the future a better place with these motivational graduation quotes.

You might remember who delivered the commencement speech at graduation, but do you remember what they said? Does one quote, or one message, still stick with you? These five graduation speeches are powerful, funny, inspiring, motivational, and above all, memorable. Watch for yourself and share the best quotes with others.

Steve Jobs: Stanford University, 2005

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Next: A hilarious Ellen DeGeneres on integrity.

Ellen DeGeneres: Tulane University, 2009

“The definition of success changes. Success is to live your life with integrity and not give in to peer pressure to be something you’re not. Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path; unless you’re you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means, you should follow that.”

Next: An honest Denzel Washington on taking risks.

Denzel Washington: University of Pennsylvania, 2011

“I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success. You’ve got to take risks. You will fail at some point in your life. Accept it. You will lose. You will embarrass yourself. You will suck at something. There is no doubt about it. Never be discouraged. Never look back. Give everything you’ve got. And when you fall throughout life, fall forward.”

Next: A thoughtful Maria Shriver on pause and reflection.

Maria Shriver: USC Annenberg School of Communication, 2012

“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. Remember to pause and reflect.”

Next: An upbeat Jon Bon Jovi on passion, persistence, and possibility.

Jon Bon Jovi: Monmouth University, 2001

“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate. The world doesn’t need any more gray. On the other hand, we can’t get enough color. Mediocrity is nobody’s goal and perfection shouldn’t be either. We’ll never be perfect. But remember these three P’s: Passion + Persistence = Possibility.”

Read Jon Bon Jovi’s full speech here.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest