“It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.” This quote comes from one of our favorite commencement speeches, given by none other than Elle Woods, in the film, Legally Blonde. With graduation season now in full swing, students all over the country are poised to receive life advice from commencement addresses given by actors, politicians, CEO’s and other cultural influencers. Among this year’s crop of speakers is an impressive group of women, sharing their pearls of wisdom with eager graduates.  Here are a few of our favorite moments…

Dr. Jill Biden, Broward College, May 4, 2012
“Here are three lessons that can apply wherever you are in life. The first is: lift up others. The second lesson is: go to your strength. The final lesson is: never stop learning. You have a whole world in front of you, and the determination to take you anywhere you want to go.”

Katie Couric, University of Virginia, May 20, 2012
“The chance to show that a woman on her own could handle the job (CBS Newsanchor) with intelligence and competence seemed worth the risk. But, I quickly learned that getting out of your comfort zone can sometimes be, well, uncomfortable. Some said I lacked ‘gravitas,’ which I’ve since decided is Latin for ‘testicles’.”

Jane Lynch, Smith College, May 20, 2012
“In order for our lives to go forward, in order to engage fully in life, we need to be willing and able to accept what is right in front of us. Whatever it is, the good, the bad, the thrilling, the heartbreaking, every emotion, occurrence, event, person, place or thing, you will experience them all… You accept influence and then you exert influence. You can’t make a cloudy day a sunny day, but can embrace it and decide it’s going to be a good day after all. If life gives you lemons, grab it by the horns and drive — and yes, I just mixed three metaphors. I was a C-student.”

First Lady Michelle Obama, Virginia Tech, May 11, 2012
“There will always be folks who make assumptions about you based on superficial things like where you’re from, or what you’re wearing, or how you look. There will always be folks who judge you based on just one thing that you say or do; folks who define you based on one isolated incident… in the end, people can only define you if you let them and it’s up to each of us to define ourselves. It’s up to each of us to invent our own future with the choices we make and the actions we take.”

Maria Shriver, USC’s Annenberg School of Communications, May 11, 2012
“I hope if you learn anything from me today, you learn and remember — The Power of the Pause. Pausing allows you to take a beat — to take a breath in your life. I’m hoping you young men and women dare to bring change to our community by changing our communication. Change it from criticism and fault-finding to understanding and compassion. Change it from nay-saying and name-calling to acceptance and appreciation. Be committed to communicating the truth.”

U. S. Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, New York University, May 16 “Keep dreaming. Keep enjoying the process of new discoveries. Dream big and achieve much.”

Oprah Winfrey, Spelman College, May 20, 2012
“Know who you are and what you want; find a way to serve; and always do the right thing.”