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Looking back at the time in which you graduated, are you able to remember the commencement speech?  Who was the speaker?  Has it had a lasting effect throughout your life, ever since?  If it has, you’re lucky to have listened to such a talented and enlightened individual.

Some people are less fortunate, for they cannot remember the speaker or the speech.  Additionally, some individuals have never attended an event that entails a commencement speech.  Nevertheless, both parties are in luck.  Each and every year, there’s a new opportunity to learn about the insightful and informational commencement speeches that are given.

Commencement speeches tend to revolve around timely topics that pertain to one’s society and the present state of the world.  The purpose of a commencement speech is to impact, encourage, and inspire the minds and hearts of the world’s future teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, writers, moms, dads, etc.  Better yet, anyone can be positively influenced by a speech, as long as you have an interest in learning.

The most popular topics amidst 2010 commencement speeches are provided by some of the most well-known individuals in America.  Such individuals who have given commencement speeches include: President Barack Obama; First lady Michelle Obama; Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve; and, stage and screen star Alec Baldwin.

President Barack Obama spoke at Hampton University, and he brought up various topics, including: technology, the media, and today’s economy.  He expressed the positive outlook students should have, regarding the education they’d received.  Specifically, Obama said:

“Allowing you to compete in the global economy is the first way your education can prepare you. But it can also prepare you as citizens. With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs and on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult at times to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s not.”

First lady Michelle Obama spoke at the University of Arkansas, and she touched upon the commonalities that exist between many people, including herself.  One commonality is that, currently, we all live in a  culture that “…glorifies easy answers and instant gratification, the fast food, the instant messaging, the easy credit.”  Additionally, Obama suggests that “…few things worth achieving happen in an instant, and there’s often great value in great struggle.”  If you’d like to read the full speech, you may click this link.

Ben Bernake’s commencement speech took place at the University of South Carolina.  According to The Atlantic, “the man who controls the United States money supply” gave a speech that pertained to the economics of happiness.  He particularly touched upon the fact that money, alone, does not lead to happiness.  Specifically, Bernake said:

“We all know that getting a better-paying job is one of the main reasons to go to college, and achieving economic security for yourself and your family is an important and laudable goal. But if you are ever tempted to go into a field or take a job only because the pay is high and for no other reason, be careful! Having a larger income is exciting at first, but as you get used to your new standard of living, and as you associate with other people in your new income bracket, the thrill quickly wears off. Some interesting studies of winners of large lottery prizes, even in the millions of dollars, found (as you would expect) that they were happy and excited on learning that they had won. But only six months later they reported being not much happier than they were before they won the lottery. The evidence shows that, by itself, money is not enough. Indeed, taking a high-paying job only for the money can detract from happiness if it involves spending less time with your family, stress, and other such drawbacks.”

Stage and screen actor Alec Baldwin gave a commencement speech to graduates of New York University at Yankee Stadium.  According to the New York Daily News, Baldwin “gave a sincere, straight-from-the-heart commencement speech”.  The news article also states that Baldwin, “asked grads to commit to their families, their own self-fulfillment and bettering society.”  Specifically, Baldwin said:  “I would like you to consider that when you commit to something or someone that proves to be unfulfilling by your measure, that is painful.  In my life, I’ve learned that when you do not commit, you do not risk, and you discover you should have, that is even more consequential.”

Overall, these four speakers have touched upon important topics, and anyone can benefit from reading about these speeches.  There’s always a chance to learn a lot from those who have experienced a larger piece of life.  Sometimes, a person’s wisdom is linked to the struggles he or she has been through, and survived from.  Other times, it’s simply because the person is of older age.  No matter what, it’s always an excellent idea to open up your heart and listen to what others have to say.

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