The Most Incredible Commencement Speech of 2015


Students are graduating. Prepare for two minutes of inspiration. (Bloomberg Business)

Looking for more inspirational advice? Listen to Nat Geo’s explorers!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, and don’t forget to quiz yourself and your students on the “week that was” in the latest Quiz Connection.

Note: Current Event Connections is slowing down for the summer. Our column will continue to appear once or twice a week until mid-August. If you have an idea for a Current Event Connection, or want to share one of your MapMaker Interactive maps, let us know in the comments!

Discussion Ideas


  • Which speaker did you like best? Why?
    • Was your favorite speaker funny?
    • Did he or she address current events or political situations?
    • What type of advice did he or she give?
    • (FYI: My favorites this year were Michelle Obama and Antonin Scalia, nicely bracketing the political continuum. She was unapologetic and on-point, he was sharp and funny, both were opinionated and gave great advice!)


  • Plan a commencement ceremony for your class!
    • What day of the week will you hold it?
    • What time of day will the ceremony be held? How long will it last?
    • Where will the ceremony be? Outside? Inside? Why?
    • Where will the graduates sit?
    • Where will the guests (parents, friends) sit?
    • Where will the featured speakers sit?
    • Who will deliver your commencement address? Why?
      • Keep in mind that some speakers come with a hefty price tag—Matthew McConaughey, for example, would set you back $135,000 plus travel and expenses. Katie Couric charges about $110,000, while rock-star astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a relative steal at under $30,000.


  • Give a commencement speech yourself! Take some tips from USA Today, TIME,, Guide to Public Writing, or Graduation Wisdom.
    • Where would you speak? At a high school, college or university, or trade school? Why?
    • What would you talk about?
      • How would your topic change for your venue? Think about the differences between First Lady Michelle Obama’s address to university graduates and Justice Scalia’s address to high-schoolers.
    • Would you offer career advice? Humor? Stories? Opinions on politics or current events? Why?



Bloomberg Business: Watch the Most Incredible Commencement Speech of 2015

Nat Geo: Explorers

Nat Geo: Free Advice from the Fed Chairman

New York Times: Cap and Gown

New York Times: 11 commencement speeches given by women this year that deserve an encore

Washington Post: Justice Scalia takes on commencement cliches in humor-filled speech

CNN: Robert De Niro tells NYU grads: “Yeah, you’re f—ed”

New York Times: 6 Decades On, a Patriotic Plea Still Resonates (Eisenhower)

TIME: Top 10 Commencement Speeches

SF Gate: Graduates, Get Out There And Flop / It’s a brave new world full of adventures and challenges. So toss out your opinions, hook up with friends, and get ready for a wild ride.

USA Today: 8 keys to a graduation speech with pomp & significance

TIME: How to Give a Commencement Speech Some suggestions on writing a commencement speech

Public Writing Guide: How to Write a Commencement Speech

Graduation Wisdom: How To Write A Graduation Speech

2 thoughts on “The Most Incredible Commencement Speech of 2015

Leave a Reply