LISTEN LIVE KPR - On Air: Listen Live to classical, jazz and NPR news Schedule LATEST
KPR 2 - On Air: Listen live to KPR's all talk-radio service, KPR2 Recordings

Share this page              

The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever

It's getting to be that time of the year when students wipe tears from watery eyes, exchange final goodbyes and throw their graduation caps into the sky. In other words, it's graduation season — and that also means the season of commencement speeches.

Over the weekend, President Obama and the first lady delivered two separate grad speeches. Michelle Obama spoke at Tuskegee University in Alabama, one of the nation's premier historically black universities, and the president headed to South Dakota to address the graduating class of Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown — one of the nation's top community colleges.

Here are some other upcoming commencement speeches happening around the country:

  • Ken Burns (May 15) — Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Maya Rudolph (May 16) — Tulane University.
  • Condoleezza Rice (May 16) — College of William and Mary.
  • Bill Nye (May 17) — Rutgers University.
  • Samantha Power (May 18) — University of Pennsylvania.
  • Stephen Colbert (May 18) — Wake Forest University.
  • Christopher Nolan (June 1) — Princeton University.

You can see a more comprehensive list from the blog Graduation Wisdom here.

Who doesn't love the commencement speech? It's one of the final moments between a student's life in the academic bubble and the real world.

Sometimes it's also a chance to push a political agenda — as the president touted his free community college plan in South Dakota. Other times it's just an opportunity to make people laugh, or a time for students to look back on their time in school and look forward to their future opportunities.

Above all, it's a moment for everyone, even those who didn't graduate, to feel inspired.

That's why the NPR Ed team sifted through hundreds of speeches (going all the way back to 1774), handpicked our favorites and built this online database.

So, if you're stuck listening to a particularly bad speech this month — or just need some inspiration — you have plenty to choose from. You're welcome.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Tower Frequencies

91.5 FM KANU Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
89.7 FM KANH Emporia
99.5 FM K258BT Manhattan
97.9 FM K250AY Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute
96.1 FM K241AR Lawrence (KPR2)

See the Coverage Map for more details

Contact Us

Kansas Public Radio
1120 West 11th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Download Map
785-864-4530 (Main Line)
888-577-5268 (Toll Free)