Famous commencement speeches
At a 2004 liberal arts graduation, the prolific writer said:
"You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox."
Apple chief Jobs offered no-nonsense advice to the 2005 Stanford grads. His health issues may have added weight to his speech.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."
Parton spoke to 2009 University of Tennessee grads about brains, dreams and breasts.
"I think people will remember us for who we were, not how many records we sell, or how much money we make. Because I have always said that I have always counted my blessings far more often than I've counted my money."
When the U2 front man spoke to 2004 University of Pennsylvania grads, he used humor to lead into a vital topic.
"Wishing for the end to AIDS and extreme poverty in Africa is like wishing that gravity didn't make things so damn heavy. We can wish it, but what the hell can we do about it? Well, more than we think. We can't fix every problem … but the ones we can, we must."
Ferrell delivered a hilarious speech at Harvard in 2003.
"One of the challenges you will be faced with is finding a job in our depressed economy. In fact, the chances of landing a decent job are about as good as finding weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi desert. Slim and none. And Slim just left the building."
Baron Cohen, who graduated from a top university, produced hilarity and provoked security at Harvard as his Ali G persona.
"What did Lincoln give American, apart from the Town Car?"
The "Harry Potter" author spoke candidly and topically to Harvard grads in 2008.
"We do not need magic to change the world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better."
President Obama took some heat for his view on a big issue prior to this 2009 Notre Dame speech.
"You are about to enter the next phase of your life at a time of great uncertainty. You will be called upon to help restore a free market that is also fair to all who are willing to work; to seek new sources of energy that can save our planet; to give future generations the same chance that you had to receive an extraordinary education."
President Kennedy got down to the basics during his rousing speech at American University in 1963.
"For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's futures, and we are all mortal."
The multi-Emmy winner returned to her hometown to give the Class of 2009 some real-world advice.
"Life is like one big Mardi Gras, but instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain, and if they like what they see, you'll have more beads than you know what do with."
O'Brien reminisced at his alma mater in 2000 and gave grads a wake-up call.
"As you leave these gates and re-enter society, one thing is certain: Everyone out there is going to hate you."
The Tibetan spiritual leader comprised the importance of education with a compassionate worldview in his 1998 speech at Emory University.
"A good person means someone with a good heart, a sense of caring for the welfare of others, a sense of commitment, a sense of responsibility. Education and the warm heart, the compassion heart—if you combine these two, then your education and knowledge will be constructive. Then you are yourself on the way to becoming a happy person."