5 Commencement Speeches to Watch from 2015 Graduation Season

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Robert De Niro kind of stole everyone’s thunder this commencement speech season, delivering perhaps the most honest possible assessment of the graduating art students’ prospects: “You’re fucked,” he told them.

But in case De Niro’s real talk was the only speech you heard, there were some other worthwhile words of wisdom this year that are worth hearing. Below, are five to watch (sadly, we couldn’t find video footage of Julia Alvarez’s Middlebury Commencement speech – if anyone tracks it down, hit us up!).

Congratulations to the graduates of 2015!

Richard Blanco

Cuban-American poet Blanco made history as the fifth inaugural poet ever, having read for Obama’s second presidential inauguration. He is the first immigrant, the first Latino, the first openly gay person and the youngest person to ever fulfill this role.

Rita Moreno

Puerto Rican entertainment legend Rita Moreno is one of the few performers to ever EGOT, and the first Latina to do so; she’s also hilarious, brassy, and apparently impervious to the normal aging process (at 83 years-old she has more energy than most of us). When someone opens their speech with “Okay, take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” you know it’s gonna be a good one.

Jorge Ramos

Mexican journalist Jorge Ramos has been on a speech roll this year – his toast at the Time 100 gala was pretty fuego, and at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s graduation this year he once again used his platform to encourage people to speak truth to power. :fist:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Nuyorican composer, rapper, lyricist, and actor Lin-Manuel returned to his alma mater this year to deliver a hilarious and relatable commencement speech filled with references to getting turnt all the way up, walks of shame, skinny dipping and other college shenanigans – also a fair amount of rapping, because what else would you expect from the Broadway star?

Gaby Pacheco

Ecuadorian immigration reform advocate Gaby Pacheco has received national recognition for her courageous work persuading Obama to implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. She was the first undocumented Latina to testify before Congress, and has been one of the most passionate advocates for the DREAM Act and immigration reform in this country.