Graduation season is approaching, and schools often get leaders in various fields to give commencement addresses. Some are better than others, to say the least. If you need some inspiration to push through to the end of the semester or are looking for reassurance as you start the next chapter of your life, check out these commencement speeches.

J.K. Rowling, Harvard University (2008)

“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College (2005)

“…your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.”

President Barack Obama, Barnard College (2012)

“My first piece of advice is this: Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Atul Gawande, UNC at Chapel Hill (2014)

“One thing I came to realize after college was that the search for purpose is really a search for a place, not an idea. It is a search for a location in the world where you want to be part of making things better for others in your own small way. It could be a classroom where you teach, a business where you work, a neighborhood where you live.”

Toni Morrison, Wellesley College (2004)

“Being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean…”

Barbara Kingsolver, Duke University (2008)

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. The most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides.”

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