Beyond Athletics

5 Commencement Speeches Student-Athletes Should Know

katie couric delivers a commencement speeches student-athletes should know at the unviersity of wisconsin-maidson

It’s graduation season! Whether you’re a 2015 grad at any level, or just looking for some inspiration heading into sophomore year or your third year on the job, there have been some wonderful words of wisdom shared across the country in college commencement speeches this year.

I’ve rounded up my top five favorites from some pretty famous people. I’ve been taking their words to heart all morning. So: without further ado, here’s some eally great advice on life, passion, jobs, and health from some really successful people student-athletes should know.

Give back to your community.

“You don’t have to be President of the United States to start addressing things like poverty, and education, and lack of opportunity. Graduates, today — today, you can mentor a young person and make sure he or she takes the right path. Today, you can volunteer at an after-school program or food pantry. Today, you can help your younger cousin fill out her college financial aid form so that she could be sitting in those chairs one day. But just like all those folks who came before us, you’ve got to do something to lay the groundwork for future generations.”

–Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, speaking at Tuskegee University

Create your own destiny.

“So if I must give any of you advice it would be Say Yes. Say Yes, And… and create your own destiny.

So hold on to your old friends. Kiss your Mama. Admit what your dreams are. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re gonna do tomorrow. But work hard and don’t be lazy. And put away your damn phone once in a while.”

–Maya Rudolph, actress and improv comedian, speaking at Tulane University

Invest in your physical health.

“Invest in your physical health. Tolerate no excuses. Let nothing stand in the way. Eat wisely. Exercise. Get enough sleep. That’s it–no fads required. So simple you might miss it.

Just do it. This 21st-century economy requires tremendous amounts of energy. To succeed, you must maximize whatever God-given health you have. Think of yourself as a business athlete.”

–Rich Karlgaard, journalist and entrepreneur, speaking at Northcentral University

Passion should always trump common sense.

“You discovered a talent, developed an ambition and recognized your passion. When you feel that, you can’t fight it. You just go with it. When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You aren’t just following dreams, you’re reaching for your destiny. Now that you’ve made your choice or, rather, succumbed to it, your path is clear. Not easy, but clear. You have to keep working, it’s that simple.”

–Robert De Niro, actor and producer, speaking at NYU Tisch School of the Arts

Think about what really gets your engine going.

“Now is the time to consider all the infinite possibilities with introspection, deliberation and thoughtfulness. Visualize the road ahead. Think about what excites you, what really gets your engine going. Engage in some real soul searching. Take a good, hard look at your strengths and weaknesses. A fulfilling professional life can be found at the intersection of what you love and what you’re good at. And when you think you’ve discovered it, go at it full throttle.

Explore. Talk to people. Pick their brains. Do your homework. Finding the right work takes work… and time. […]

Be humble enough to know what you don’t know. Every day you should be learning, observing, asking questions. Like “What more can I do?” Or “How can I help?” Consider no task beneath you.”

–Katie Couric, journalist and news anchor, speaking at University of Wisconsin- Madison

Whether it’s inspiration, tips on your athletic performance or guidance through the recruiting process, our scouts can help. The best way to get started is by building an athletic recruiting profile.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.