Stephen Colbert's Inspiring Graduation Speech: Our Favorite Celebrity Commencement Addresses

Stephen Colbert might have a future in motivational speaking if this whole comedy thing doesn't work out. The "Colbert Report" host made yet another inspirational graduation speech over the weekend, this time at the University of Virginia.

Yes, the same University of Virginia that rejected his application back in 1984, he said.

The comedian interlaced plenty of comedy within his 17-minute speech, but the takeaway for young college grads is clear: Don't let anyone dictate your future.

"This week's Time Magazine called you lazy, entitled narcissists who are part of the me, me, me generation," he said. "...And that's very upsetting to us baby boomers because self-absorption is kind of our thing."

He went on to advise students to "choose the hard path" to create the lives of their dreams.

"And don't worry if we don't approve of your choices," he said, "…because you do not owe the previous generation anything. Thanks to us, you owe it to the Chinese."

Wise words for all of us!

Colbert isn't the only celeb who has a way with words when it comes to graduation speeches. We've compiled five of our favorite celebrity commencement addresses of all time.

Time to get inspired!

Ellen DeGeneres

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres knows a thing or two about blazing trails in her career; after all, she holds the distinction as television's first openly gay star.

Ellen drew from that experience to inspire students during her graduation speech at Tulane University in 2009.

"…Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path, unless you're in the woods and you're lost, and you see a path. Then, by all means, you should follow that," Ellen said.


Oprah has amassed a billion-dollar fortune over her four-decade talk career, but she advised graduates at Stanford University's 2008 commencement not to make wealth the primary focus of their lives.

"Having a lot of money does not automatically make you a successful person," she said. "What you want is money and meaning. You want your work to be meaningful, because meaning is what brings the real richness to your life."

J.K. Rowling

"Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling is a true rags-to-incredible riches story -- and she referred to that struggle during her speech at Harvard University's 2008 commencement.

In the speech, Rowling encouraged the graduates to use their knowledge to help others.

"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better," she said.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs' speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005 was inspirational - and a bit haunting. The Apple visionary, who later battled pancreatic cancer, advised graduates to go after their dreams now because nothing in certain in life.

"…Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice," he said. "And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton might not be the first person you'd think of when it comes to celebrity commencement speakers, but the iconic country singer gave a poignant - and hilarious - speech to graduates at the University of Tennessee in 2009.

"Do not confuse dreams with wishes. Dreams are where you visualize yourself being successful at what it's important for you to accomplish. … Wishes are hoping good things will happen to you, but there's no fire in your gut that causes you to put everything forth to overcome all the obstacles," Dolly explained.

"…And never, ever, ever blame somebody else if it doesn't happen. That is in your department."