It’s that time of the year again. The time when students across the country don those caps and gowns and prepare for their “next big journey.” But before the 2011 grads step out into the real world, they’ll get one last bit of wisdom from their university’s commencement speaker. And this year, several colleges are booking some A-list talent to step up to the podium.
As expected, most of the top schools get their speeches from world dignitaries and trusted scholars. But one huge political leader is taking an entirely different route. President Barack Obama gave his commencement speeches to graduating students at Miami-Dade College and Tennessee’s Booker T. Washington High School. Centered in one of the poorest districts in the country, the latter campus won the honor to hear Obama after participating in a Race to the Top competition.
Ex-Commander-In-Chief Bill Clinton spoke to a slightly larger crowd for his NYU address. Talking to a packed house at New York’s Yankee Stadium, the former President drew massive cheers when he stepped onto the field in his purple gown.
Adding some Latin flair to the commencement world, Supreme Court JusticeSonia Sotomayor made an impassioned speech at New Jersey’s Ramapo College. Dressed in a black gown, the 56-year-old trailblazer spoke for nearly 20 minutes about the importance of following your dreams.
“I have lived all my dreams and, more incredibly, have far surpassed them,” she said. “Dreams do not come true simply because of luck or innate talent. They only come true if you work hard to make them come true.”
Interestingly, Sotomayor had some personal reasons for speaking at Ramapo. Her godson, Tommy Butler Jr., was part of the graduating class, having earned his master’s degree in nursing.
Another Latino leader, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, is set to say some very inspirational words to the parting students at Stanford University. A graduate from Harvard, Calderon’s speech is expected to draw a flurry of activity. So much so, that the faculty is planning to stream it live.
But don’t think it’s just the political elite that are getting the Class of 2011 worked up. Several celebs are offering their unique perspectives to the new graduates as well. Comedienne Amy Poehler will be speaking at Harvard on Wednesday and earlier in the week, Tom Hanks drew big cheers for his address at Yale.
And all of you Team Coco fans may want to check YouTube for bootlegs onJune 12. That’s the day when comedian Conan O’Brien takes the mic at the Dartmouth graduation and we’re sure it will be very quotable.
By Michael Lopez