In the last few weeks, colleges and universities around the country garnered  an impressive roster of commencement speakers. The goal, as always, is that these speakers inspire, motivate, guide, and in some cases, temper the fears of young graduates leaving the safety of the college campus to enter the uncertainties of the working world. We at Women’s Voices for Change were exceptionally impressed with the powerhouse women who served as commencement speakers for the class of 2012. From Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver, Sheryl Sandberg, and Sonia Sotomayor we’ve curated advice that’s not just for  emerging twentysomethings—it’s for all of us, at whatever our stage of life.

“Let excellence be your brand.” ~Oprah Winfrey (Chair/CEO Harpo Productions) at  Spelman College

“Whenever you’re in doubt: PAUSE—take a moment. Look at your options—check your intentions—and then take the high road.” ~ Maria Shriver (Journalist) at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School’s Commencement Ceremony

“If you think big, if you own your own success, if you lead, it won’t just have external costs, but it may cause you some personal sacrifice.” ~ Sheryl Sandberg (CEO, Facebook) at Barnard College

“The key to success is continuously maintaining an ever-present curiosity.”~ Sonia Sotomayor (Supreme Court Justice), at New York University

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  • Dr. Pat June 5, 2012 at 9:48 am

    The editors’ choices for commencement addresses that they have chosen to share with our readers are thrilling. These messages that focus on the reality of women’s lives in both our country and around the world are inspiring because they are based on the both the issues of persistent gender inequality but give new graduates and all women in transition the hope that we can turn the “promise of equality” into more than an aspiration. It has always been true that we have to “lean into our work”, but these speakers urge us to make ambition an honorable attribute when describing women, and that each of us work harder to “own our success”. This is not the time to focus on what we don’t have, this is the time to go for what we must have. We need 50% of that pie: politically, socially and financially.

    Dr. Pat