Commencement speech

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President (then-Vice President) Joe Biden delivering a commencement speech to the graduating class of 2015 at Yale University
The University of New Hampshire commencement in 2007, at which George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke

A commencement speech or commencement address is a speech given to graduating students, generally at a university, although the term is also used for secondary education institutions and in similar institutions around the world.

The commencement is a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred upon graduating students. A commencement speech is typically given by a notable figure in the community or a graduating student. The person giving such a speech is known as a commencement speaker. Very commonly, colleges or universities will invite politicians, important citizens, or other noted speakers to come and address the graduating class.

A student speaker may deliver remarks either in lieu or in conjunction with a notable outside figure. Student commencement speakers are often valedictorians or may otherwise be elected by their peers to represent the student body.

Despite meaning "beginning", commencement may be mistaken to mean "ending" due to its association with the end of one's studies. Its usage originated with students finishing their studies and being awarded a degree, thus commencing as bachelors or masters in a subject and enjoying new privileges within academia.[1]

Some notable commencement speeches[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Online etymology dictionary. "commencement (n.)". Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  2. ^ a b "Top 10 Commencement Speeches". Time magazine. Archived from the original on May 20, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  3. ^ "The 10 Best Graduation Speeches of All Time: Winston Churchill, Former UK PM". CNBC. 13 May 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  4. ^ Hanhimäki, Jussi M.; Westad, Odd Arne, eds. (2004). The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts. Oxford University Press. p. 122. ISBN 9780199272808.
  5. ^ Feynman, Richard P. (June 1974). "Cargo Cult Science" (PDF). California Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  6. ^ Levine, Sam (2016-05-20). "David Foster Wallace's Famous Commencement Speech Almost Didn't Happen". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  7. ^ Staff, Entrepreneur (23 May 2016). "Peter Thiel Commencement Speech, Hamilton College, May 2016 (Transcript)". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  8. ^ Holly Foster (May 22, 2016). "PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel Urges Class of 2016 to "Do What Hasn't Been Done"". Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "Trump at Liberty University commencement: 'In America, we don't worship government; we worship God'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  10. ^ Bidgood, Jess; Seelye, Katharine Q. (2017-05-26). "At Wellesley, Hillary Clinton Criticizes Trump and Invokes Nixon Resignation". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  11. ^ Diamond, Anna. "What Hillary Clinton Said to the Wellesley Class of 2017". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-06-13.

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