Over the years speakers delivering MIT’s commencement address have ranged from a sitting United States President, to founders and CEOs of some of America’s most innovative companies. The speeches often include anecdotes and advice to MIT’s newest alumni and, while each commencement speech is different, many end with a call to action for graduates in their last lines. Here are just a few of those last lines.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton shared the title of commencement speaker with David Ho, CEO and director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center. In his speech, Clinton noted how America was changing with the coming of the Information Age—even highlighting the impressive storage power of the then-new technology of DVDs. Clinton ended his speech with short request for MIT graduates.
Graduates in 1999 were treated to a talk from public radio celebrities —Tom ’58 and Ray Magliozzi ’72. In their speech, Click and Clack joked about how they were chosen as speakers—citing a “strong and murky undercurrent of support” from the MIT community. After touching on the idea of genesis, mantra, and the road to Car Talk, Ray ended the speech with a familiar catchphrase.
In 2011, Chair and CEO of Xerox Ursula Burns had a unique opportunity—to be the commencement speaker at her own son’s graduation. Burns spoke about the constant of change in the future while encouraging graduates to embrace it. She ended her speech inviting new grads to appreciate the now.
See more last lines from past MIT commencement speakers below and on Facebook.