Mega-Inspiring Celebrity Graduation Quotes to Take You Through Life

Celebrity Graduation Quotes
Photo: Allison Kahler/STYLECASTER/Getty Images

It’s graduation season, which means that celebrities are flying to universities (and some high schools!) all over the country to give commencement speeches at their alma maters. Commencement speeches by deans and faculty members are fine and dandy, but nothing will beat hearing celebrities such as Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman, and Mindy Kaling give you words of wisdom on one of the most important days in your young-adult life.

Whether you’re a soon-to-be graduate or someone who has been out of school for years, we can all use some motivational quotes to take us through life. To inspire you to be your best self, we’ve rounded up 12 Pinterest-worthy graduation quotes from our favorite celebrity speeches.

Inspiring Mindy Kaling Quote


“Understand that one day you will have the power to make a difference, so use it well.” — Mindy Kaling (Harvard Law School, 2014)

“Don’t be afraid of your ambition, of your dreams, or even your anger. Those are powerful forces, but harness them to make a difference in the world.” — Hillary Clinton (Wellesley College, 2017)

“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.” — Oprah Winfrey (Harvard University, 2013)

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Inspiring Kerry Washington Quote


“You and you alone are the only person who can live the life that writes the story that you were meant to tell.” — Kerry Washington (George Washington University, 2013)

“Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means you should follow that.” — Ellen Degeneres (Tulane University, 2009)

“It’s your turn to choose and define what success means to you. Now, others will try to define it for you, but yours is the only voice that matters.” — Octavia Spencer (Kent State University, 2017)

Inspiring Natalie Portman Quote


“You can never be the best. The only thing you can be the best at is developing yourself.” — Natalie Portman (Harvard University, 2015)

“If I must give any of you advice it would be say yes. Say yes, and create your own destiny.” — Maya Rudolph (Tulane University, 2015)

“You can’t do it alone. Be open to collaboration. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life.” — Amy Poehler (Harvard University, 2011)

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Inspiring Janelle Monae Quote


“I celebrate you as you remember the power of grace and pride, and I challenge you to choose freedom over fear,” — Janelle Monáe (Dillard University, 2017)

“When someone who loves you hugs you, hug them back with two arms—don’t do the one-arm hug, because when you hug someone with two arms, it allows you to lean on somebody, and we all need someone to lean on.” — Sandra Bullock (Warren Easton Charter School, 2014)

“You could travel with the sheep, follow everybody else’s stuff, but then you’re not you. I guess if I want to say anything it’s ‘Be you.’ Be true to you, and that should make the ride a little more interesting.” — Whoopi Goldberg (Savannah College of Art and Design, 2011)