1. If you don’t, who will? – Harvard University Commencement Address

“Would you respect the law and the rights of all? Because if you don’t, who will? When your food is brought to you, will you thank the server? Because if you don’t, who will? Would you pick up the litter that has missed the recycling bin? Because if you don’t, who will? Will you vote your conscience and make sure your neighbor has the opportunity to do the same with theirs, because if you don’t, who will? Will you make good on your victories and learn from your losses because both are the results of proud and noble efforts, if you don’t, who will?”

– Tom Hanks

The actor emphasizes how you can choose to embody a noble ideal in your daily life and on a larger scale. Not only does this highlight the fact that young adults need to start taking responsibility for their choices, actions and consequences but also tells you that you have the option to shape your future. Because if you won’t be passionate about your own life, who will? 

2. The REAL meaning of winning – Stanford Commencement Address 

“In sports, you often hear the phrase, “Winning is everything.” But in reality, it’s not. The questions you have to answer are: “Am I getting better as a person?” And, “Is what I’m doing bringing me and the ones around me happiness?” The answers will tell you whether or not you’re REALLY winning.”


-John McEnroe 

In a world driven by profit margins and bottom lines, tennis legend John McEnroe asked two poignant questions asking the students of Stanford University to remember what is important- who you are and how you treat others. He reflected on his own journey as a professional athlete and concluded that despite his many victories, this was his true definition of success.

3. Leave a Legacy of Kindness – TSU Commencement Address

“There will never be anything in your life as fulfilling as making a difference in somebody else’s. Everybody here wants to see you take your integrity, your curiosity, your creativity, your guts, and this newfound education of yours, and use it to make a difference. Everybody always thinks you got to go do something big and grand. I’ll tell you where you start. You start by being good to at least one other person every single day. Just start there. That’s how you begin to change the world. By just being good to one other person.”

– Oprah Winfrey

Addressing graduates at her alma mater Tennessee State University, Oprah Winfrey impressed upon students the importance of kindness, emphasizing that small acts of kindness can make a lasting impact on another person. 

4. Work hard but don’t get burnt out 

“My last piece of advice is the one I could have used the most. It took me a long time to learn. And it is this: You are not a slacker if you cut yourself some slack,”

-Bill Gates

Take time for yourself. In today’s toxic hustle culture, remember to take breaks and nourish your mind before returning to the grind. Work hard, but don’t get burnt out. 

5. Time is the most valuable resource – Johns Hopkins Commencement Address

“Will you be able not to waste thistime of your life? This topic seems trivial, but these are very, very difficult questions for every person. How you answer them is how you live. And while it is still possible to find new deposits of oil or lithium, and if in the future humanity can start mining resources in space, it is still purely science fiction to live longer than has been given.”

– Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a stirring speech to the John Hopkins Class of 2023. He compared the value of time with that of oil or lithium or uranium and even spoke about the hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers trying to get time on their sides. He encouraged students to work with focus and urgency even in times of peace.

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