I have never been a big fan of graduation speeches. As a graduate, I remember wanting to get that piece of paper and get outta there. So when it was time to receive my Master’s degree, I said they could just mail it to me. I had a career to hustle for.
But would there be any fictional speeches I would want to watch? My mind exploded with the possibilities. And then I realized I don’t write for Buzzfeed.
Look, I was asked to get this down to five, okay? So stop judging me for leaving out Sky High, or the school in Ender’s Game, or the Miskatonic University. This is about the top five. Those would be dope, but they didn’t make the cut. So here’s the rundown.
Alight, you caught me. This entire list serves as one long excuse for me to eviscerate the Twilight “saga”. But I just want to underline this one point: no character in these books would bring anything to a commencement speech worth remembering. It’s possible that Stephenie Meyer shoved a speech in the exhausting pages of these dullards, but I never finished the first one because we ran out of toilet paper. #sorrynotsorry
OK, so I’m cheating a little. But these are just teases for your creative juices.
Universe: Star Trek Prime Universe
Year: Stardate 48236.7
Theme: Comic relief with a poignant reminder that your growth is not done
Rationale: I passed over Jean-Luc Picard, Data, The Doctor, and Spock. What I had to answer was: who would I really want to listen to. In the end, there was only one. Worf transcended viewer’s prejudice against Klingons and helped to make them the most beloved race in the Trekverse.
Quote you’ll remember: “Klingons never bluff. Klingons do not surrender. Klingons do not eat babies… As time passes, a boy inevitably becomes a man. But what is not inevitable is that a man becomes a sword.”
Is there a comparable real-life version? No. Worf has no real-life equal.
Universe: The Magic School Bus (books)
Speaker: Ms. Frizzle (duh!)
Theme: Failure is a part of success (after a trip inside the human brain, of course)
Rationale: Are you kidding me? Ms. Frizzle taught me more about science than any teacher. She inspired and made me wonder. She deserves to be higher than Worf and maybe even my #3 selection. So how dare you turn your nose because I didn’t put one of your fantasy characters in this position. Ms. Frizzle is the best!
Quote you’ll remember: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – Patti Smith to the Pratt Institute’s Class of 2010
Universe: Uncanny X-Men (the comics)
Theme: Live life to the fullest
Rationale: Yeah, there’s a whole group who’d say they’d want to hear from Beast or Xavier. Are you the same that wanted Jean-Luc Picard above? Blah. To me it comes down Storm. She grew out of hardship to become the first black female leader in ALL OF COMICS (yes, that’s crazy, and she’s awesome).
Quote you’ll remember: “You counter despair with hope. You strive forever for the best you are capable to be—therein lies the victory.”
Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – Michelle Obama to UC Merced’s Class of 2009
Universe: The Kingkiller Chronicle
Year: Sometime around when Kvothe should be graduating
Theme: Names are important. We should think carefully about the words we select.
Rationale: Listen, this is the best fantasy series written in the last 25 years, hands down, no doubt, end of story (yes, I’m baiting those dweebs in the corner frothing over a new chapter released on georgerrmartin.com and whining over Lady Stoneheart’s exclusion from the TV-show. Fight me!). Elodin clearly has a lot to say and is very careful about his words. He’s the only character I crave to have Kvothe spend more time with just so I can learn more. Also, his speech would be super short, which means we’ll get off to the Eolian to drink some Scutten early!
Quote you’ll remember: “Be certain of the words you use. Words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – David Foster Wallace to Kenyon College’s Class of 2008 (excerpt)
Universe: The Harry Potter Universe
Speaker: Lily Evans
Theme: The power of imagination and the importance of choice.
Rationale: Look, I know you all thought Hermione Granger would get the top spot. I hear you. But I also want to remind you of how unfair Hogwarts was under its last headmaster. Hermoine would be ready and prepared to give her commencement speech, ready to crush it… except Dumblebore would amble to the podium and announce that his pet child, Harry Potter, was going to speak instead. All because he was the chosen one. Barf. So let’s use our time-turner to go back to 1978 and hear Lily Evans give a rousing speech. Don’t forget that Harry’s mom was the heart of the whole series—giving life to Harry while serving as the inspiration for Snape’s deception. If she could inspire a man to give up his life and become a spy, long after she died, then she surely could give one of the greatest commencement speeches.
Quote you’ll remember: “I don’t know what you want to do. None of us do. You alone can choose!”
Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – J.K. Rowling to the Harvard Class of 2008