The most inspiring graduation speeches of '14

  • Jim Carrey challenged the graduating students to take risks
  • Sandra Bullock surprised a high school in New Orleans when she spoke at their graduation
The most inspiring graduation speeches of '14

It's hard to say something original in a graduation speech. 

"Follow your dreams" and "work hard" have been said a few too many times to large groups of students in oversized robes. 

However, every year there are a few commencement speeches that stand out. They manage to inspire the audience without just repeating lines from motivational posters. 

Funnyman Jim Carrey gave a passionate address to the Maharishi University school of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. He challenged the graduating seniors to take risks and not play it safe. "What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I'm saying I'm the proof that you can ask the universe for it," Carrey said. 

Sandra Bullock definitely captured the room's attention when she surprised the graduating class of 2014 at Warren Easton High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. The actress adopted the school shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area.

Bullock told the students she wished someone had told her to "stop worrying so much." "Stop being scared of the unknown because anything I worried about didn't happen. Other stuff happened -- but not what I worried about." 

You might recognize Charlie Day from the comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." 

The actor and comedian delivered the keynote address to the graduating class at his alma mater, Merrimack College. 

Day successfully made the audience laugh while still giving useful advice. 

"I had one casting agent say 'this man will never work in comedy.' But I was in the fight. I was taking my punches but I was in the fight. That is a metaphor of course. I don't think I have any actual ability to take a punch," Day said as he encouraged the graduates to take risks. 

Indiana University grad Parker Mantell has a stutter, but that didn't stop him from delivering an eloquent speech during his own graduation.  

"Whether one is bound to a wheel chair or sufferers from ADHD or repeats the first syllable of a word as I sometimes do, we have been tacitly yet resoundingly told to doubt both ourselves and our abilities. Doubt...kills more dreams than failure ever will," Mantell said to his fellow graduates. 

Music mogul Sean Combs -- P. Diddy -- spoke at Howard University in May. The rapper and entrepreneur told the class to "make a decision today that when you're in the darkness you'll remember the power of you!"

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