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Pomp and Circumstance....and speeches!

By Angela Lin

Head of YouTube Education Team

Across the country, students are throwing on caps and gowns and marching across graduation stages to collect well-deserved diplomas. As important to a graduation ceremony as “Pomp and Circumstance”, commencement addresses have become a central component of the big day. From celebrities to humanitarians to heads of state, colleges and universities are putting a big focus on speakers that will inspire and entertain those gathered for the occasion.

Before online video, you would have to be a graduate or guest to receive these pearls of wisdom. Even then, you’d probably only be able to see a handful of commencement addresses in your lifetime. Now with YouTube, these speeches are available any day and to anyone seeking inspiration. With more than 5,000 videos for ‘commencement speech’, YouTube houses a vast repository of commencement addresses. Through YouTube EDU, colleges and universities have uploaded over 1,600 videos to their own channels.

You can hear J.K. Rowling share with Harvard University the impact failing early in her career had on ultimately achieving her life’s dream. You can join Ellen DeGeneres as she celebrates Tulane University’s graduating “Katrina Class” in her native New Orleans. For all history buffs out there, you can hear Sir Winston Churchill deliver his famous “Never Give In” speech at the Harrow School in London and John F. Kennedy discuss the importance of world peace in the context of the Cold War at American University. Try not to laugh watching Conan O’Brien’s address at Harvard University or Stephen Colbert’s at Knox College.

Here’s a small sampling of the speeches available on YouTube: 

Hats off to the graduating classes of 2011 from YouTube!