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The Best Commencement Speeches Of 2011

First Posted: 06/02/11 08:48 AM ET   Updated: 08/02/11 06:12 AM ET

2011 was a great year for commencement speeches. From Amy Poehler's hilarious routine at Harvard's Class Day to Facebook's Sheyl Sandberg's message to young women everywhere, luminaries from all fields spoke to this year's graduating class with wisdom and humor.

Check out our slide show of the best commencement speeches of 2011. Then tell us, did we miss any great speeches? Weigh in in the comments section.

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  • Amy Poehler At Harvard

    Definitely the funniest commencement speech of 2011. Also probably one of the funniest commencement speeches of all time.

  • Sheryl Sandberg At Barnard

    "Men run the world," Sandberg told Barnard's class of 2011. "We will never close the achievement gap if we don't close the ambition gap." A great message for girls everywhere.

  • Denzel Washington At UPENN

    Washington delivered and inspiring speech about the necessity of failure.

  • Tom Hanks At Yale

    Tom Hanks gave the address at Yale graduation, in which he implored the class to "please do not turn off your electronic devices." A warm and funny speech.

  • John Legend At Kean University

    Kean University students got two for the price of one. John Legend gave a speech and a swoon-worthy performance at their commencement.

  • Arianna At Sarah Lawrence

    "Perseverance is the difference between success and failure," Arianna told Sarah Lawrence grads in her witty and thought-provoking speech. "Failure is not the opposite of success, it is the stepping stone to success."

  • Obama At Coast Guard

    Obama warned Coast Guard that they have "never been more important" in his address at the Academy.

  • Ronan Farrow At Simons Rock

    Ronan Farrow gave an informative speech about what young people can do for the world at Simon's Rock College of the Bard.

  • Michelle Obama At Spelman

    Michelle Obama gave an amazing speech at Spelman College, detailing the school's history, and telling grads, "Do big things."

  • Jack Nicholson At Brown

    OK. So this isn't exactly a commencement speech. But you have to watch it, trust me!


Filed by Rebecca Harrington  |