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5 Awesome (and inspiring) celeb graduation speeches

Jane Lynch gave a poignant — and hilarious — speech this weekend during Smith College’s graduation. Check it out!

Jane Lynch gives Smith College commencement addressJane Lynch is awesome. Agreed? Agreed. The snarky Glee star took her awesomeness to Smith College’s graduation over the weekend to bestow her knowledge and comedic timing on the all-female graduating class. The actress called the graduates “fiercely independent, wicked smart, trailblazing, uber confident and shockingly entitled.”

How would she know that? Well, she lives with one: Her wife, Lara Embry, graduated from the Massachusetts college.

However, she wasn’t just there to joke around: Lynch had plenty of advice to give the grads.

“Remember that Smith woman entitlement I spoke of earlier? I’m counting on yours to ferociously guard the women’s health care rights our sisters won for us years ago,” she said, adding that “plans are for wusses. You are obviously good planners or you wouldn’t be here. Stop it now! Don’t deprive yourself of the exciting journey your life can be when you relinquish the need to have goals and a blueprint.”

Lynch closed by thanking Smith for her honorary degree.

Watch Jane Lynch at Smith College: 

“Today I become a Smithie. That same piece of paper that my wife and all of you toiled for years to get, I now get for a handshake,” she joked. “I am so proud to be one of you.” 

The Glee star is just one of many celebrities tasked with delivering the graduation speeches at colleges around the country and world. It’s hard to pick favorites, but here are a few that we loved.

Alan Sorkin — Syracuse University, 2012 

The West Wing and The Social Network creator Alan Sorkin got honest — really honest — when he addressed the Syracuse University graduating class in early May 2012.

“Don’t ever forget that you’re a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do to lift the human spirit, things that are easy, things that are free, things that you can do every day. Civility, respect, kindness, character,” Sorkin said before delving into his past cocaine addiction.

“My big fear was that I wasn’t going to be able to write without it,” he confessed of the drug. “Last year I celebrated my 11-year anniversary of not using coke. … In that 11 years, I’ve written three television series, three movies, a Broadway play, won the Academy Award and taught my daughter all the lyrics to Pirates of Penzance.”

Moral? You can do anything you set your mind to.

Ellen DeGeneres —Tulane University, 2009

New Orleans native Ellen DeGeneres returns to the city to give the commencement address at Tulane University. Of course, she brought her comedic chops.

“By the time I was your age, I really thought I knew who I was, but I had no idea. Like for example. … I was dating men. So what I’m saying is, when you’re older, most of you will be gay,” she joked.

U2’s Bono — The University of Pennsylvania, 2004

Graduates can stand to learn a thing or two from Bono: He’s now the richest rock star in the world. However, he was more concerned with bestowing a message of service in his speech to Penn’s 2004 graduating class.

“What are you willing to spend. … your sweat equity in pursuing outside of the walls of the University of Pennsylvania? My point is that the world is more malleable than you think,” Bono said.

Conan O’Brien — Dartmouth University, 2011

TBS late night host Conan O’Brien also used comedy in his poignant speech at Massachusetts’ Dartmouth University in 2011.

“I, a cable television talk show host, have been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom. I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today,” he said to laughs.

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Which is your favorite celebrity college graduation speech?

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