What motivates the nation’s most influential and poignant speakers to address thousands of students at college graduation ceremonies year after year? Graduates, it is because of each of you. Graduation is a unique rite of passage and your moment to be recognized. College graduation speakers gather to celebrate your past achievements and the possibilities that lie ahead.
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This year’s cast of commencement speakers spans an impressive résumé of accomplishments. Students will hear from President Obama at University of California Irvine, Frozen director Jennifer Lee at University of New Hampshire, and Jeff Bauman hero and survivor of the Boston Marathon attack at Fisher College, to name just a few.
You are on the cusp of something brand new. Before you cross the stage and take your diploma in hand, your graduation speakers have a message of inspiration, wisdom, and hopefully humor, too. Take these words of motivation with as you carve out your own future successes.
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Here are the top 20 most-anticipated commencement speakers for 2014.
- Fisher College: Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo, who became heroes during the Boston Marathon tragedy when Arredondo helped save Bauman’s life by wrapping a makeshift tourniquet around his leg and wheeling him to safety
- George Washington University: Chef José Andrés
- Ithaca College: Emmy award–winner Chris Regan, currently a writer for Family Guy
- Johns Hopkins University: Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube
- Lake Forest College: Kelly Leonard ’88, executive vice president of Second City
- Middlebury College: Diana Nyad, who last year defied the odds and dangers to achieve her lifelong goal to become the first person to swim the 110 miles between Cuba and Florida without the aid of a shark cage or fins
- Princeton University: Al Gore, former Vice President
- Rutgers University: Condoleezza Rice, 66th Secretary of State of the United States, the second woman and first African-American woman to hold the post
- Tulane University: Wynton Marsalis, New Orleans native and Pulitzer Prize winner
- United States Military Academy at West Point: President Barack Obama
- University of California Irvine: President Barack Obama
- University of Massachusetts Lowell: Bill Nye the “Science Guy”
- University of Michigan: Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
- University of New Hampshire: “Frozen” screenwriter and director Jennifer Lee, the first woman to direct an animated feature film for Walt Disney Animation Studios
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Dr. Atul Gawande, a celebrated surgeon and best-selling author
- University of Pennsylvania: John Legend, the Grammy award–winning soul artist and philanthropist
- University of South Carolina: Vice President Joe Biden
- University of Utah: Alex Smith, quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, a University of Utah graduate
- University of Washington: Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Bernard Amadei, founder of Engineers Without Borders USA and cofounder of the Engineers Without Borders International network
Who is speaking at your graduation? Find more commencement speakers on our complete line-up.