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The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition." – Alan Alda, Connecticut College Commencement Speech, 1980
Robin Merchant/Getty Images
"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition." – Alan Alda, Connecticut College Commencement Speech, 1980

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Illustration/NPR

It's getting to be that time of the year when students wipe away watery eyes, exchange final goodbyes, and throw their graduation caps up into the sky.

And graduation season means commencement speeches.

Over the weekend, President Obama and the first lady delivered two separate grad speeches.

Michelle Obama spoke at Tuskegee University in Alabama – one of the nation's premier historically black universities. The president headed to South Dakota to address the graduating class of Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown — one of the nation's top community colleges.

Here are some other upcoming commencement speeches happening around the country:

Ken Burns (May 15) – Washington University in St. Louis

Maya Rudolph (May 16) – Tulane University

Condoleezza Rice (May 16) – College of William and Mary

Billy Nye (May 17) - Rutgers University

Samantha Power (May 18) – University of Pennsylvania

Stephen Colbert (May 18) – Wake Forest University

Christopher Nolan (June 1) – Princeton University

You can see a more comprehensive list from the blog Graduation Wisdom here.

Who doesn't love the commencement speech? It's one of the final moments between a student's life in the academic bubble and the real world.

Sometimes it's a chance to push a political agenda — as the president touted his free community college plan in South Dakota.

Other times it's just an opportunity to make people laugh, a time for students to look back on their time in school and look forward to their future opportunities.

And above all, it's a moment for everyone, even those who didn't graduate, to feel inspired.

That's why the NPR Ed Team sifted through hundreds of past speeches (going all the way back to 1774), hand-picked our favorites and built this online database.

So if you're stuck listening to a particularly bad speech this month — or just need some inspiration — you're welcome.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.