05/25/2012 11:56 am ET

The Best Commencement Speeches 2012: Quotes To Live By

"So dream on. Dream on. Dream until your dreams come true."
-Robert Fischer, Belmont University, 6:21

"We will ultimately rise up with social activism, collective confidence, civic engagement, and service leadership. They say our main contributions will be revitalizing communities and advancing technology. They say that we may be the next Great Generation."
-Corbin Klett, Georgia Tech, 1:12

"You must bite the hand that feeds you. You are perhaps always told the opposite of this. The opposite of this is often said to you, 'Do not bite the hand that feeds you.' But from time to time I tell you, you must."
-Jamaica Kincaid, Grinnell College

"This is not to suggest you should say 'YES AND' to every opportunity presented to you. Now, I know what you’re thinking, 'Jane, what about doing porno?' To which I say I am as surprised as you are that I was never offered that opportunity. But would I have said yes to that? What if life gives us the opportunity to rob a bank or a way to cheat on our taxes or say it offers us several hours in a row of life with the Kardashians...hours that we can never get back? To this I say: you can always trust that when you’re coming from your highest self and from your heart, you’ll know when you should say 'YES AND,' and when to engage the awesome power of 'NO WAY.'"
-Jane Lynch, Smith College, 12:05

"...make no mistake about it, you are dumb. You're a group of incredibly well-educated dumb people. I was there. We all were there. You're barely functional. There are some screw-ups headed your way. I wish I could tell you that there was a trick to avoiding the screw-ups, but the screw-ups, they're a-coming for ya."
-Aaron Sorkin, Syracuse, 2:08

"Because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher. I’ve seen your passion and I’ve seen your service... I’ve seen a generation eager -- impatient even -- to step into the rushing waters of history and change its course."
- President Barack Obama, Barnard.

"Sometimes, as Dr. Viktor Frankl observed in a book for the ages, it is not a matter of what we are asking of life, but rather what life is asking of us. How often the answer to our own troubles is to help others with theirs."

-Governor Mitt Romney, Liberty University

"...have the courage to go beyond other people's rules and expectations. I pray that you will live and write your own story and then be brave enough to communicate it authentically to others. people will be inspired by it, people will learn from it, and people will have the courage to change their own lives because of the example you have set."

-Maria Shriver, USC, 17:45

"I just want to pause for a moment on the word 'invent' because the phrase isn't 'succeed in the future,' it's not 'plan for the future' or 'do the best you can in the future.' It's 'invent the future.' And with those three words comes a simple message: a call to chart your own course and live life on your own terms... In the end, it's up to each of us to define ourselves. It's up to each of us to invent our own future with the choices we make and the actions we take."

-Michelle Obama, Virginia Tech, 11:53