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Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 05/25/2012

Commencement advice from the stars: The 2012 Reliable Source celebrity graduation speech


President Obama congratulates graduates of US Air Force class 2012 Wednesday during their graduation ceremony. (JEWEL SAMAD?AFP/Getty Images)
It’s graduation season, which means commencement speakers trying so hard to be funny and memorable — and usually failing. (Remember your college grad address? Thought not.) Colleges fight for VIP speakers because they make headlines with their Life Lessons. And so we present the The Reliable Source’s annual, all-purpose keynote address (with input from our colleague Jenna Johnson) stitched together from the best lines of Commencement 2012.


Mitt Romney at Liberty University. (Jim Watson/Getty Images)
“This is awesome. (1) We all dress up in medieval scholastic robes with their ecclesiastical overtones. The speaker struggles to say something memorable. Everyone else struggles to stay awake. The simultaneous attainment of these two goals is pathetically rare. Why even bother? (2)

“I told them when they called, I said, ‘You know, I dropped out of GW.’ It was my third and final attempt at college. And they said, ‘Oh, no, that’s cool. Come on ahead.’ (3) So I plan to slow jam the commencement address. (4)

“On this most auspicious of days, I want you to take a breath and reflect: Don’t blow through this day even if you’re overwhelmed with family or maybe you’re just a little bit drunk. (5)


Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at NYU last week. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
“Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about life in four-year stretches. And let’s just say that not everybody has achieved as much in these last four years as you have. (6) Please don’t mistake what is happening here today. The fact that you are receiving a diploma from one of America’s finest institutions of higher learning does not mean you are educated. (7)


Katie Couric at University of Virginia’s commencement May 20. (Sabrina Schaeffer/AP)
“You’re about to enter the real world. I’ve been in the real world, and I think you may need aspirin once in a while. (8) Every one of you will at some point be confronted by naysayers and learn that life isn’t always fair. You’ll feel cheated, you’ll be mistreated. You’ll wonder, ‘when will I be loved?’ (9) As I stand before you, I see the reflection of myself in your eyes. I feel in the rhythm of your heartbeat my own. I feel your desire. (10) But this is not a day about me. It’s about you. (11)

“You will be stupid. You will worry your parents, as I worried mine. You will question your own choices, you will question your relationships, your jobs, your friends, where you live, what you studied in college — that you went to college at all. The thing I want to say is: That is totally OK. (12)

“People bemoan this generation that is growing up living life in front of screens, always connected to something or someone. These people are wrong. (13) I’m only asking you to stop every so often and turn off your mobile device, put down the Angry Birds and the Words with Friends and take a moment. Stop to look up and look around. (14)


Aaron Sorkin at Syracuse University. (Nate Shron/Getty Images)
“You’re too good for schadenfreude. You’re too good for gossip and snark. You’re too good for intolerance. And since you’re walking into the middle of a presidential election, it’s worth mentioning that you’re too good to think people who disagree with you are your enemy — unless they went to Georgetown, in which case they can go to hell.” (15)

“Your final and perhaps most impressive distinction — breaking the world’s record for the largest game of dodgeball: 3,000 participants, 30 hours. I didn’t know that was possible.” (16) You have one life, so make the most of it. And, by the way, have some fun along the way. (17)”

Think you know who offered which pearls of wisdom? Find out below the picture:


Oprah Winfrey at Spelman College’s commencement ceremony on Sunday. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

1) Justice Sonia Sotomayor, NYU, May 16

2) Ted Koppel, University of Massachusetts Amherst, May 11

3) Brian Williams, GWU, May 20

4) Michael Bloomberg, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, May 13

5) Jane Lynch, Smith College, May 20

6) Mitt Romney, Liberty University, May 12

7) Jim Lehrer, College of William & Mary, May 13.

8) Garry Marshall, Lafayette, May 19

9) Katie Couric, UVA. May 20

10) Oprah Winfrey, Spelman College, May 20

11) Colin Powell, Northeastern, May 4

12) Ira Glass, Goucher College, May 18

13) Eric Schmidt, Boston University, May 20

14) Maria Shriver, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, May 11

15) Aaron Sorkin, Syracuse University, May 13

16) President Obama, Air Force Academy, May 23

17) Tony Blair, Colby College, May 20



Read earlier:

The Reliable Source Commencement Speech 2011

The Reliable Source Commencement Speech 2009

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