The Top Graduation Speeches Of 2023

Former IBM Corp. CEO Ginni Rometty

As the Class of 2023 crossed the finish line this year, a number of remarkable commencement speakers took to the stage to impart some words of wisdom.

MBA Chic recently highlighted a few of the best commencement speeches of 2023.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: GINNI ROMETTY, FORMER CHAIR / CEO OF IBM

Ginni Rometty is the ninth Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM, where she’s transformed the 100-year-old company by reinventing 50% of its portfolio, building a $25 billion hybrid cloud business, and establishing IBM’s leadership in AI and quantum computing.

In her speech to Loyola Marymount University’s MBA Class of 2023, Rometty spoke of the importance of “good power.”

“Even when you have little else, you always have the power to define who you are,” Rometty says. “Never let anyone else define who you are. It has served me well, and I hope it serves you well. No matter how much you go out and succeed, I guarantee you there will always be situations or people who try to derail you from who you want to be.”

EMORY UNIVERSITY: ANTHONY RAY HINTON, ACTIVIST, WRITER AND JUSTICE ADVOCATE

Anthony Ray Hinton is an activist, writer, and justice advocate. In 1986, Hinton was wrongfully convicted of the death sentence over crimes he didn’t commit. He spent 30 years in jail before the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit organization, helped secure his freedom. Hinton’s 2018 bestselling book “The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row” illustrates a story of hope, forgiveness, and truth-seeking.

In his commencement speech to Emory grads, Hinton stressed the importance of compassion and forgiveness.

“I challenge you to be great human beings,” Hinton says. “I challenge you to bring what is already inside of you. What is in you is understanding; what is in you is compassion; what is in you is forgiveness; what is in you is love. When I was on death row, I realized all of those things [were] inside of me.”

WHARTON SCHOOL: LARA ABRASH, CHAIR OF THE BOARD, DELOITTE US

Lara Abrash is the Chair of the Board of Deloitte US, where she is responsible for leading the board of directors, governing all aspects of the organization.

Abrash, who received her own MBA 30 years ago, spoke about important role models in her life and how they’ve helped shape her journey.

“Today is special because it’s the day before Mother’s Day,” she tells Wharton’s Class of 2023. “My mom has played a very, very important role in my life. My mom graduated from high school in the 1940s. At that time, her parents told her she had two choices. She could either go get a vocational degree to be a nurse or a secretary or she could go find a husband who would take care of her. My mom went on to get married (she’s not married to him anymore), and had four children. Three boys, and myself, and during her life, that inability to have her choice was in her head every single day. She was a part of a movement in the 1960s, we’re feeling a similar movement now, where women were seeking new heights. We talk a lot about examples and you want to tell people what to do, how to live their lives, but the best examples come from how you show them what to do. I saw my mom work multiple jobs every day. I saw my mom participate in political movements, women’s marches, stuffing envelopes for Geraldine Ferraro when she was up to be the first female Vice President. But the most impressive thing my mom did, when along the way she kept telling me, ‘you can be anything you want baby,’ was about the same time I graduated from college, my mom put herself back to school and got her college degree and we did it together.”

To read about graduation speeches at Dartmouth Tuck, Columbia Business School, and Babson Olin, click here.

Sources: MBA Chic, Loyola Marymount University, Emory University, Wharton School

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