Ladies to Look Up To | Commencement Speeches to Inspire

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Continuing our series on Commencement Speeches, we’re proud to present the following five speeches from these following 5 powerful and empowering ladies

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*Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*Mindy Kaling
*Amy Poehler
*Michelle Obama
*Toni Morrison

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Author of Americanah

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie demonstrates how life is messy by telling the story of how she left a clear path of becoming a doctor in Nigeria for a less certain path of traveling to the U.S. to pursue her passion for writing. She encourages the Wellesley graduates to just try because you never know what might happen, to minister to the world in a way that you can change it, and to love others by both giving and taking.

Mindy Kaling
Actress/Writer

Mindy Kaling returns to Darmouth where she graduated with a degree in playwriting and reminisces about what college was like before the days of cell phones and Internet access for all. She tells stories about how her checklists of life goals didn’t always go as planned, how becoming a mother changed her perspectives, and how being delusional helped her to root for herself and others even when it didn’t seem logical.


Amy Poehler
Actress/Comedienne

Amy Poehler uses her experiences on ensemble comedies like Upright Citizens Brigade, Saturday Night Live, and Parks and Recreation to stress the importance of collaborating with others and finding people in life who inspire and challenge you. This comical, yet poignant speech reminds graduates of Harvard that you cannot do this alone—it is always more fun to succeed (and fail) with other people.

Michelle Obama
Former First Lady of the United States

Michelle Obama retraces the history of education for African Americans in the United States through inspirational stories of triumph and demonstrates how education has been the key to real and lasting freedom. She encourages the graduates of City College of New York to spread their hunger for education and reignite the passion for education in all communities.


Toni Morrison
Author/Nobel Laureate in Literature

Toni Morrison walks through her ideas about the future, the past, responsibilities, and happiness and talks about the impact of previous generations. She urges the graduates of Wellesley to love the earth, embrace growing into adulthood, and create their own narrative in life.

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