The Most Notable Commencement Speeches of 2022

Taylor Swift headlines this year's crop of celebrity commencement speakers addressing graduates across America's campuses.

Updated June 1, 2022

The Most Notable Commencement Speeches of 2022
Photo by Dia Dipasupil / Staff / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

Following two years of cancellations and virtual ceremonies, traditional commencements have returned to college campuses nationwide. As always, this year's roster of speakers includes entertainers, politicians, athletes, CEOs, entrepreneurs, writers, and other notable A-listers.

Here's a sampling of famous speakers and their words of wisdom for the class of 2022.

Note: This list will be updated throughout the commencement season.

Taylor Swift, New York University

The internet blew up when NYU announced Taylor Swift would be this year's commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree. Telling stories about her triumphs and travails, Swift told graduates to learn from mistakes and stay resilient because "life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once."

Favorite Quote: "In your life, you will inevitably misspeak, trust the wrong person, underreact, overreact, hurt the people who didn't deserve it, overthink, not think at all, self-sabotage, create a reality where only your experience exists, ruin perfectly good moments for yourself and others, deny any wrongdoing, not take the steps to make it right, feel very guilty, let the guilt eat at you, hit rock bottom, finally address the pain you caused, try to do better next time, rinse, repeat."


Mary Frances Berry, Clark University

Mary Frances Berry, a civil rights activist, historian, and professor emerita at the University of Pennsylvania, reminded graduates of their "moral obligation" to contribute to society and challenged them to "find consensus for a better future."

Favorite Quote: "My experience is that there can be no real satisfaction in a life devoted entirely to the satisfaction of personal desires. If one is to be consumed by passion, I can think of no more worthy all-consuming passion than the struggle for human rights, greater opportunity, and a livable planet."


Tim Cook, Gallaudet University

A leading institution for the deaf and signing community, Gallaudet has a longstanding relationship with Apple, whose products have signature benefits for deaf students. Apple's CEO urged graduates to "lead with your values."

Favorite Quote: "What I mean is that you should make decisions, big and small, each and every day based on a deep understanding of who you are and what you believe. These are not static things, and you wouldn't want them to be. You will learn more and grow more with each passing year as all of us do, but there are foundational values that are core to your personality and your character and these are the things you should choose to live by."


Hamdi Ulukaya, Northeastern University

A Turkish immigrant, Ulukaya used an abandoned factory in upstate New York to launch the Chobani yogurt empire.

Favorite Quote: "As we started to grow, we hired everyone that we could. I realized an hour away there was a community of refugees who were having a hard time finding jobs. I said, 'Let's hire them.' ... I promise you that there is nothing more rewarding than showing up in the world for other people, no matter how hard it may be."


Billie Jean King, Springfield College

A tennis legend and pioneering champion for social change, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights, Billie Jean King spoke about the significance of 50 years of Title IX and encouraged graduates to be a "problem-solver and an innovator."

Favorite Quote: "As a gay woman, I was not comfortable in my own skin until I was 51 years old. You never really understand inclusion until you've been excluded. So don't let others define you. … You define yourself in your life."


Kamala Harris, Tennessee State University

The vice president challenged fellow HBCU graduates to discover solutions for an "unsettled" world.

Favorite Quote: "Here in the United States, we are once again forced to defend fundamental principles that we hoped were long settled — principles like the freedom to vote, the rights of women to make decisions about their own body, even what constitutes the truth."


Ken Jeong, Tulane University

The actor and doctor, whose comedy and medical careers began in New Orleans, ruminated on the difficulties of pursuing challenging paths and told graduates to "find your toughness, cultivate your love for what you do, and never give up."

Favorite Quote: "I don't define myself by my job. I'm not just a doctor. I'm not just a comedian. I'm not just an annoying overactor. I persisted in annoying the world for decades, and the world relented, yo. I'm just me."


Joe Biden, University of Delaware

Returning to his alma mater, President Biden told students it's "no time to be on the sidelines" during what can "feel like a very dark moment in America," referencing the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.

Favorite Quote: "Your generation is the most generous, the most tolerant, the least prejudiced, the best-educated generation this nation has ever known. And that's a simple fact. And it's your generation, more than anyone else, who will have to answer the question, 'Who are we?' 'What do we stand for?' 'What do we believe?' 'Who will we be?'"


Dr. Anthony Fauci, University of Maryland, Baltimore

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the President—and trusted scientific voice during COVID-19—acknowledged graduating students for the "resilience, resolve, and strength of character" they demonstrated during the pandemic and urged them to remain "perpetual students."

Favorite Quote: "I still feel a palpable excitement in the continual process of learning, no matter which of the many hats of responsibility that I'm wearing — seeing patients, working in the laboratory, directing a large biomedical research institute, or advising the President of the United States during a raging pandemic. I urge you to embrace such an attitude as you proceed in the wide range of careers that you all will pursue."


Ken Burns, University of Pennsylvania

Fresh off his new series on Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder, the award-winning documentary filmmaker urged graduates not to focus on amassing "Benjamins."

Favorite Quote: "We've nearly broken this Republic of ours, but somehow you've got to fix it. You're going to have to initiate a new movement, a new Union Army, that must be dedicated above all else — including your career and personal advancement — to the preservation of this country's civic ideals. You'll have to learn, and then re-teach the rest of us that equality — real equality — is the hallmark and birthright of all Americans."


Allyson Felix, University of Southern California

The most decorated track and field Olympian in history, Felix famously called out Nike for refusing to protect the salaries of sponsored athletes who are pregnant. Nike, along with several other athletic brands, reversed its policy.

Favorite Quote: "Remember: Your voice has power. You have to use your voice, even if it shakes. There are times when you will ask for change, and there are times when you'll create it. … It's important to live a life of purpose."