Quote Unquote: Commencement Addresses

Soledad O'Brien delivering the commencement address at the University of Delaware.

By Irish America Staff
August / September 2012

A selection of quotes – some poignant, some hilarious – from commencement addresses by Irish and Irish-American speakers throughout the States.

“We better understand that we are just part of a bigger whole and not divided by political labels or gender or race, but are stronger as a nation because of what binds us. Those differences are our heritage. Identities do matter and we can all be proud that we are here, together.”
– Soledad O’Brien, delivering the commencement address to the 2012 graduates of the University of Delaware, on May 26.

“John F. Kennedy was right when he talked about the army of young people going out around the world. I’ve walked through countries like Malawi where the difference between a small community with running water coming out of a one-inch white PVC pipe and a town without water is often just which towns have been visited by terrific young American people acting as volunteers.”
– Brian Williams of NBC in his address to the graduating class of Georgetown University. May 20.

“My advice to you: live in the moment. Stay fluid and roll with those changes. Life is just a big extended improvisation. Embrace the ever changing, ever evolving world with the best rule I’ve ever found. Say “YES AND.”
– Actress Jane Lynch, to the Smith College class of 2012 at their commencement on May 20.

“But that’s what makes our country great: our individual ability to openly and freely express our views, whether or not they are popular, whether or not they are in the minority, or whether they are even based on misimpressions. . . That’s why I still do my job, because the values that this country was founded on, to include freedom of speech and freedom from harm, are worth fighting for.”
– John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and deputy national security advisor, in his commencement speech at Fordham University on May 19.

“All your life you have been hearing about how your lives will be changed on this occasion as you enter the real world. I have a news bulletin for you tonight. You’ve already been there. Turns out, junior high was the real world. . .The same petty jealousies, the insecurities, the snobs, the cliques, the dorks, the egos, the tantrums, and the dopes that you met in junior high, you’re going to encounter for the rest of your lives.”
– Tom Brokaw, 2012 Arizona State University commencement speaker. May 3.

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