Words Of Wisdom Commence For 2012 Grads

It's graduation season at colleges and universities around the country. We hear selections of commencement addresses culled from decades past.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's graduation season at colleges and universities around the country. And just as Mitt Romney addressed the students at Liberty University, other prominent politicians, entertainers and leaders are joining in that celebrated tradition. Here now, we present a composite commencement address for the class of 2012, drawn from some famous voices over the years.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMMENCEMENT SPEECHES)

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Board of trustees, distinguished guests...

BARBARA BUSH: ...faculty, parents...

CONAN O'BRIEN: ...undergraduates and all people that just come to these things...

STEVE JOBS: ...I'm honored to be with you today for your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world.

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Not too long ago, I sat where you now sit.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: I'll try not to belabor you with some of the standard rhetoric that is beloved of graduation speakers.

OPRAH WINFREY: I can say that nobody knows where you'll go in your life.

O'BRIEN: Whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change, and that's OK.

BONO: But whether it's this or something else, I hope you'll pick a fight and get in it. Get your boots dirty, get rough.

REAGAN: There will come times in the lives of all of us when we'll be faced with causes bigger than ourselves.

WINFREY: Don't be afraid, because there is no such thing as failure.

O'BRIEN: Nietzsche famously said whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. What he failed to stress is that it almost killed you.

JOBS: I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love.

BUSH: At the end of your lives, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.

KENNEDY: Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home.

REAGAN: We need your youth, we need your strength, we need your idealism.

BONO: Well, this is the time for bold measures, and this is the country and you are the generation.

O'BRIEN: And finally, wearing colorful Converse high-tops beneath your graduation robe is a great way to tell your classmates that this is just the first of many horrible decisions that you plan to make for the rest of your life. Thank you very much and congratulations.

BUSH: Thank you.

BONO: Thank you.

REAGAN: Congratulations and God bless.

WINFREY: May your future be worthy of your dreams.

MARTIN: Words of wisdom from commencement speeches delivered by John F. Kennedy, Barbara Bush, Conan O'Brien, Steve Jobs, Benazir Bhutto, Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey and Bono.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: And you're listening to NPR News.

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