4. Thomas Friedman, Grinnell College Commencement 2009

On May 18, 2009, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman gave an impassioned speech at Grinnell College about the need for Generation Y to reinvent and reengage to make America great again.

Speaking at the height of the nation’s subprime mortgage crisis, Friedman opines that “The only way a society advances is by inventing things that satisfy people’s wants and needs. Like a computer or a new form of energy. Or creating things to satisfy needs you never knew you had, like the need to ‘Google’ or listen to music on an iPod.”

Watch part 1, part 2 and part 3.

5. Barack Obama at Arizona State University, 2009

President Barack Obama delivered a speech in 2009 at ASU as the United States faced deep economic uncertainty. Obama highlights that no matter what profession we choose, we should not be complacent. “Professors might earn the distinction of tenure but that doesn’t guarantee that they will keep putting in the long hours and late nights and have the passion and the drive to be great educators.”

The great American dream is that young people who follow their passions can change the course of history. “It’s what led two guys in a garage, named Hewlett and Packard, to form a company that would change the way we live and work.”

Watch President Obama’s full speech here.

Editor’s note: While not specifically related to ed-tech, here are two inspirational and humorous speeches.

Oprah, 2013 Harvard

Internationally acclaimed media mogul Oprah Winfrey gave a heartfelt speech at Harvard’s 2013 graduation and said, “The challenge of life I have found is to build a resume that doesn’t simply tell a story about what you want to be, but it’s a story about who you want to be. It’s a resume that doesn’t just tell a story about what you want to accomplish, but why.”

Stephen Colbert Northwestern 2011

Political satirist and television star Stephen Colbert was invited to speak at Northwestern in 2011 and had this to say about the university’s facilities: “Northwestern’s academic resources are unparalleled. The library contains 5 million books and 100,000 periodicals. None of which anyone reads because they are not on an iPad.”

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