Memorable Quotes from 10 Wellesley Commencement Speeches, in Celebration of the Yellow Class of 2019

The head shots of 10 of Wellesley's former commencement speakers
May 24, 2019

Commencement 2019 is just one week away! On Friday, May 31, members of the yellow class of 2019 will join their friends, families, and the rest of the Wellesley community to celebrate Wellesley’s 141st commencement exercises.

The class chose Anita Hill, renowned activist, attorney, and educator whose courage has inspired generations, to deliver this year’s address. Hill, university professor of social policy, law, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Brandeis University and a faculty member of its Heller School for Social Policy and Management, is renowned for her work with civil and women’s rights in pursuit of social justice and to combat sexual harassment. Her voice has been prominent in academia, politics, and the media regarding gender, race, and equality; the Washington Post has called her a “leading face” of the ongoing #MeToo movement.

In celebration of the class of 2019’s final days at 106 Central Street, here are excerpts from 10 inspiring, thoughtful speeches delivered to Wellesley graduates by remarkable women. (Four on this list made NPR’s list of Best Commencement Speeches, Ever.) To read the speeches in their entirety, visit the commencement archives.


10 of Wellesley’s Memorable Commencement Quotes

Maya Angelou

“Of all your attributes… courage is indeed your greatest achievement. It is the greatest of all your virtues, for without courage you cannot practice any other virtue with consistency.”

Maya Angelou, 1982

Gloria Steinem

“No one can give us power. If we aren't part of the process of taking it, we won't be strong enough to use it.”

Gloria Steinem, 1993

Nora Ephron ’62

“Be the heroine of your life.”

Nora Ephron ’62, 1996

Oprah Winfrey

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.”

Oprah Winfrey, 1997

Toni Morrison

“Nobody has the exact memory that you have. What is now known is not all what you are capable of knowing. You are your own stories and therefore free…”

Toni Morrison, 2004

Madeleine K. Albright ’59

“Real leadership comes from the quiet nudging of an inner voice. It comes from realizing that the time has come to move beyond preparing to doing.”

Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59, 2007

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Never ever accept ‘because you are a woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2015

Lulu Chow Wang

“We should all strive to succeed in whatever we do, but success is so much better if shared with others—not at the end of our lives in our wills, but throughout our lives.”

Lulu Chow Wang ’66, 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69

“Double down on your passions. Be bold. Try, fail, try again, lean on each other, hold on to your values, and never, never, never give up. I believe in you. With all my heart, I believe in you.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69, 2017

Tracy K Smith

“I want to challenge you to take the feeling of love out of the realm of the private or intimate and allow it to drive the ways that you see and respond to strangers across all kinds of divides.”

Tracy K. Smith, 2018