Commencement Speakers for 2017: Big Names for a Big Day

Spring is upon us, and with it comes the turning of tassels, inspiring speeches, and graduates ready to face the world.  After years of hard work, students eagerly await their graduation day.  Across the country, commencement speakers are preparing speeches to motivate and guide graduating classes as they begin their new journey.

This year, we find a plethora of prominent names from a variety of industries.  In the political world, President Trump will address the evangelical Liberty University as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.  Vice President Pence will deliver his speech to Notre Dame University, and Senator Bernie Sanders will speak to Brooklyn College.  Tech great Mark Zuckerberg will speak at Harvard University, where he attended before dropping out in his sophomore year to complete Facebook.  Smith College and Skidmore College are graduating students who previously attended the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, which Winfrey started in 2007 for impoverished girls in South Africa.  Oprah will deliver a commencement speech at each school this year, to recognize their achievements.  From authors and athletes to politicians and executives, these speakers have been chosen to impart final words of wisdom.

As men and women reflect on their college years, these celebrities are lending a little more pomp and circumstance to this momentous day.

Here are some notable 2017 commencement speakers:

Chip Conley, Airbnb- Ross School of Business, University of Michigan (April 28th)

David Ortiz, Professional Baseball Player- New England Institute of Technology (April 30th)

Wolf Blitzer, CNN Anchor and Journalist- High Point University (May 6th)

Natasha Tretheway, Poet- Emory University (May 8th)

Howard Schultz, Starbucks President and CEO- Arizona State University (May 8th)

Will Ferrell, Actor- University of Southern California (May 12th)

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook- Virginia Tech (May 12th)

Steven Levitan, Modern Family Writer and Director- University of Wisconsin-Madison (May 12th-13th)

Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (May 13th)

Janelle Monae, Award Winning Musician- Dillard University (May 13th)

Tatyana McFadden, U.S. Paralympic Athlete – Mitchell College (May 13th)

Maz Jobrani, Comedian- University of California- Berkeley (May 13th)

Nick Offerman, Actor- University of Illinois (May 13th)

Octavia Spencer, Academy Award Winning Actress- Kent State University (May 13th)

Senator Tim Kaine– Virginia Commonwealth University (May 13th)

Jimmy Chin, Climber and Photographer- Unity College (May 13th)

Steven Van Zandt, Musician and Actor- Rutgers University (May 14th)

Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.)- University of Pennsylvania (May 15th)

President Donald Trump– Liberty University (May 13th) and U.S. Coast Guard Academy (May 17th)

Joanne Liu, President of Doctors Without Borders- Barnard College (May 17th)

Bakari Sellers, Attorney and State Representative- Winston-Salem State University (May 18th) and Northcentral University (July 8th)

Oprah Winfrey– The Skidmore College (May 20th)

Ron Chernow, Biographer- Lafayette College (May 20th)

Helen Mirren, Actress- Tulane University (May 20th)

Van Jones, Activist and Author- Morehouse College (May 21st)

Daniel Dennett, Professor of Philosophy- Trinity College (May 21st)

Vice President Mike Pence– Notre Dame University (May 21st)

Colson Whitehead, Award Winning Author- Connecticut College (May 21st)

Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for Chicago Cubs- Yale University (May 22nd)

Frank Bruni, Journalist- John Hopkins University (May 24th)

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook- Harvard University (May 25th)

Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State- Wellesley College (May 26th)

Claudia Rankine, Award Winning Poet- Wesleyan University (May 28th)

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)- Brooklyn College (May 30th)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Author- Williams College (June 4th)

Eva Longoria, Actress- Knox College (June 4th)

Baz Luhrmann, Director- Princeton University (June 5th)

Tim Cook, Apple CEO- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (June 10th)

Jake Tapper, CNN anchor- Dartmouth College (June 11th)

Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls Actress- Langley High School (June 15th)

Billy Jean King, Former Professional Tennis Player- Northwestern University (June 16th)

Dalai Lama– University of California, San Diego (June 17th)


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