Words of Wisdom from Women We Admire

The best advice from some of 2014's female commencement speakers

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Jill Abramson

“You know the disappointment of losing or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of."


2014 Wake Forest University Commencement Speech

Sheryl Sandberg

"Your life’s course will not be determined by doing the things that you are certain you can do . . . It will be determined by whether you try the things that are hard."


2014 Harvard University Commencement Speech

Mary Barra

“Be open to opportunities when they occur. Embrace them. Enjoy them. And overcome them. They are the experiences that will make you unique—the milestones that define your life."


2014 University of Michigan Commencement Speech

Terry Gross

“I believe we’re shaped by our failures, by our weaknesses and setbacks, at least as much as we are by our successes. In many cases, those failures make ultimate success possible.”


2014 Bryn Mawr College Commencement Speech

Daniel Burke

Jennifer Lee

“If I learned one thing, it is that self-doubt is one of the most destructive forces. It makes you defensive instead of open—reactive instead of active. Self-doubt is consuming and cruel—and my hope today is that we can all collectively agree to ban it.”

2014 University of New Hampshire Commencement Speech

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Katie Couric

“A hard-nosed veteran producer looked at me and said, ‘Kid, today you may be drinking the wine, but tomorrow you may be picking the grapes.’ In other words, remember that the same people you pass on the way up are the people who catch you when you fall. Because the truth is, no one’s life is free of disappointments.”


2014 Trinity College Commencement Speech

Gwen Ifill

“Off-ramps are just another opportunity to do it right or to do it better.”


2014 American University School of Public Affairs Commencement Speech

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Madeleine Albright

 “Today, instead of harnessing the winds of change, it often seems those winds of change are driving us.”

2014 Dickinson College Commencement Speech

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Anne-Marie Slaughter

Do not wait until the choice is upon you to establish and plan for your priorities.”


2014 Tufts University Commencement Speech

Courtesy of New America,Photographed by Denise Applewhite

Diana Nyad

“When you achieve your dreams, it’s not so much what you get, it’s who you become.”


2014 Middlebury College Commencement Speech

Nicole Bengiveno/New York Times/Redux

Shonda Rhimes

“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you're paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn't matter. You don't have to know. You just have to keep moving forward.”


2014 Dartmouth College Commencement Speech

Next: More's 4th Annual Fierce List: 50 Inspiring Women

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