Commencement Speeches

Scripps has drawn a long list of influential people to campus as commencement speakers. In addition to household names like Gloria Steinem, Gabrielle Giffords ’93, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead, and Molly Ivins, Scripps students have been inspired by leaders in politics, law, higher education, science and medicine, nonprofits, art, entertainment, and other fields.

Recent Speeches

Nonie Creme ’94 · 2014 Commencement
Global entrepreneur and founder of cosmetics company Butter London
"Flying by the seat of your pants, but flying just the same"

College is a crucial time to explore yourself and your mind. Try stuff. Develop opinions, and just be in an environment where your BIG job and purpose is simply to think. These years are gold dust. Trust me, you'll carry on reinventing yourself for the rest of your life, but what you learnt here at Scripps will creep in and tap you on the shoulder at the most amazing times. You may not even realize you knew those things, but they're in there.

Sanggeet Manirajah ’14 · 2014 Commencement
2014 Senior Class Speaker
"Humbly, We Walk"

I will leave you not with a quote, but with a question. As you take this first of many steps on this journey, what will you carry with you?

Ruth Owades ’66 · 2013 Commencement
Entrepreneur and founder of Gardener’s Eden and Calyx & Corolla
"Dare to Succeed"

At Scripps you have laid the foundation for the next chapter of your life — whether it is in the Boardroom or the Operating Room, the Classroom or the Courtroom — and always the Family Room, however we fashion it — know that you are well prepared to achieve your dreams.

Roshni Kakaiya ’13 · 2013 Commencement
2013 Senior Class Speaker
"Creating Spaces"

Dear "real world:" Get ready. The Scripps Class of 2013 is taking over. And there ain't no goin' back now.

Zainab Salbi · 2012 Commencement
Founder of Women for Women International
"BE the World You Want to Live"

Well, congratulations for finishing a fantastic chapter of your life. It’s probably the most fun, although it can get much more funner. At this point of your life, at this particular juncture, you have a choice to make as you enter the new chapter of your life. You have a choice to live life out […]

Claire Hasting Calderón ’12 · 2012 Commencement
2012 Senior Class Speaker
"Constant Revision"

I’d like so very much to send us off that way, knowing that we will not be afraid to challenge what we are given. That we will keep digging deep, deep, deep until we find those juicy roots, that we will plant our uncompromising seedlings and water them fiercely, to make our deliberate and daring mark on the world.

Elizabeth Robbins Turk ’83 · 2011 Commencement
Sculptor and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship recipient
"What is True in Permanent Change?"

Shouldering the wrong idea may bring unseen richness. This might even give you space to recognize opportunity and the chance to accept a dream too big to have been dreamt. That is what we all wish for you: magnanimous dreams and expansive friendships.

Joss Taylor Greene ’11 · 2011 Commencement
2011 Senior Class Speaker
"Building Nests in Windy Places"

If we can find the courage to define happiness according to our own comfort and intuition, we may stop competing for the sake of it and instead find ways of complementing and supporting each other. We may then define success not according to our individual superiority but as collective participation in a world where we can all be our fullest selves. Not fighting the wind to prove our own strength but building nests in community.

Sue Monk Kidd · 2010 Commencement
Author
"Necessary Fire"

Find a purpose grand enough for your life. And whatever your necessary fire is, your genius turns out to be, remember, in some way, it is necessary for the world too. Try to love the world despite what you see out there. Go make your big beautiful dent, and as you do so come down on the side of boldness. If you err, may it be for too much audacity, and not too little. For you really are enough.

Ann Kidd Taylor · 2010 Commencement
Author
"Necessary Fire"

Today at 34, when I think about all the possible conversations that could go on inside of you at this moment, I hope yours will include a serious discussion about your necessary fire. I hope it will allow you to listen deeply to yourself, perhaps, even give you the courage to invite surprise.

Litza Johnson ’10 · 2010 Commencement
2010 Senior Class Speaker
"Coming Alive"

It's so important for us to realize that as valuable as our differences are, there is always some place we can connect and that compassion and respect can be easy. If we look for the differences, we will find them. But if we look for the similarities we'll find those too. I truly believe that if we approach the rest of our lives with this mindset, the opportunities will be limitless.

Gabrielle Giffords ’93 · 2009 Commencement
United States Congressman (D-AZ)
"Find the Calling of Your Heart"

So, be passionate. Be courageous. Be strong. If you remember these things, you will make me proud of you, you will make Scripps proud, you will make your parents proud, and you will make the United States proud of you and grateful for the unique treasures you will give to it.

Kirsten ‘Kiwi’ Smith · 2008 Commencement
Screenwriter, poet, and novelist
"The Movie of Your Life"

Of course, Hollywood follows a formula. Lives do not. What we plot for the Movie of Your Life could easily spool into a much larger and more complicated story than we could ever imagine. Maybe it's not a movie; it's a TV series, a Broadway musical or a trilogy. And in twenty years, we'll do the remake with a much younger cast. There is no telling the potential of your own personal franchise.

Ashley Peters ’08 · 2008 Commencement
2008 Senior Class Speaker
"On Our Shoulders"

I am positive that right now, I am speaking to a future organic chemist, a future CEO, a future neuroscientist, a future teacher, and THE future President of the United States. That is OUR power, OUR choice... OUR responsibility. Scripps gave us the tools — it is now up to us to pave the way so that our names are recited in a list of women who made a difference in a world still determined to find fault with a woman's curves, brilliance, and wit.

Karen Tse ’86 · 2007 Commencement
Founder and CEO of International Bridges to Justice
"You Are Not Alone"

Thank you today for joining me in this journey. I hope you will open your hearts, too, to the many human rights defenders throughout the world, that you will give them and strengthen them with your courage, and that you will always look to each other as classmates to give courage and strength to each other in the years to come, and may you always be blessed.

Molly Ivins · 2003 Commencement
Columnist and author
"Go Forth Unafraid"

Now, I have three pieces of advice for you out of my very own life experience. Ready? First, raise hell—big time. I want ya'll to get out there and raise hell about damned near everything. My word there is a world out there that needs fixing. Get out there and get after it! Now let me tell you, no matter what you do your whole life (many of you being Scripps graduates will probably throw pots), but you'll become doctors or lawyers or beggars or thieves—whatever you wind up doing, you will be, most of you, citizens of this country your entire life. That is a second job and it's a job that requires real responsibility.

Speaker Archive

Year Speaker Speech
2006 Barbara Arnwine
Executive Director, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
2005 Lynne Jeffries Hunt '75
FBI legal attach
2004 Gloria Steinem
Feminist activist, co-founder of the National Women's Political Caucus and Ms. Magazine
2002 Hannah Beth-Jackson
State Assembly Woman, California Santa Barbara District
"Well Behaved Woman Rarely Make History"
2001 Jan Piercy
World Bank Executive Director
2000 Naomi Wolfe
Author
"Ethical Leadership for the 21st Century"
1999 Jane Smiley
Author
1998 Donna Shirley
JPL, Mars Program
1997 Wesley Clark
NATO
"Global Citzenship for the New Millenium"
1994 Dr. Susan M. Love
Director UCLA Breast Center
"You Can Change the World"
1993 Carol Tavris
Social psychologist, writer, lecturer
"If You Meet the Goddess on the Road..."
1992 Naomi Wolf
Author, social critic
"The Beauty Myth"
1991 Bonnie Jo Hunt
Operatic concert artist; founder & president of Artists of Indian America, Inc.
"Walk in Beauty"
1990 Natasha Josefowitz '48
Adjunct Professor, San Diego State University; management consultant, internationally syndicated columnist and best-selling author
"The Woman of the 1990's: Managing Her Complex Life"
1989 President John H. Chandler
President of Scripps College 1976-1989
"You Can Take It With You"
1988 Andrea Van de Kamp
President and chief executive officer of the Independent Colleges of Southern California
"A Look at Tomorrow"
1987 Tanya Cherry Tull '64
Founder and President of Para Los Ninos & Executive Director of the Los Angeles Family Housing Corporation
"To Change the World - And Make It Better"
1986 The Honorable Cynthia Holcomb Hall
Judge, United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
"Back to the Future"
1985 Benjamin C. Bradlee
Executive Editor, The Washington Post
"The First Rough Draft of History"
1984 Patricia Roberts Harris
Professor of Law, George Washington University
"Preparing for the Twenty-First Century"
1983 Hannah-Beth Jackson
Attorney and Chair, California Commission on the Status of Women
"The Renaissance Woman of the Future"
1982 Sherry Lee Lansing
Production President, Twentieth Century Fox
"Then and Now"
1981 Iris Mitgang
Chair, National Women's Political Caucus
"Women and the Politics of the '80's"
1980 Margaret T. Hance
Mayor of Phoenix, AZ
"If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Back in the Kitchen"
1979 Professor Mary P. Ryan
Associate Professor, State University of New York at Binghamton
"Circling and Ascending: A Century of Women Graduates"
1978 Bella Lewitzky
Artistic Director, Bella Lewitzy Dancers
"Making My Way in Dance"
1977 Joan Dempsey Klein
Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
"The American Dream: Is It Still Viable"
1976 Helen Hardin Jackson '55
"The Role of Women in Public Life"
1975 Kathleen Brogan Schwarz, M.D. '64
Fellow in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at St. Louis Children's Hospital
"A Different Drummer"
1974 Ruth Ashton Taylor '43
CBS-TV News Reporter
"Maybe It's Time for a Woman President"
1972 Dr. Margaret McKenzie '40
Associate Professor of German, Vassar College
"The Humanities in Today's World"
1971 Dr. Georgiana Hardy
Member, Board of Education of Los Angeles
"The Ardent and Steep Hill of the Morning"
1970 Margaret Mead
Anthropologist, Author and Curator Emeritus of Ethnology of the American Museum of Natural History
"What is a Crisis"
1969 William Ayres Arrowsmith
University Professor of Arts and Letters, University of Texas
Educator and Writer
1968 Rosemary Park
Vice-Chancellor, University of California at Los Angeles
1967 Clarence H. Faust
Former President, Fund for the Advancement of Education
Former Vice President, The Ford Foundation
"Gates of the Future"
1966 C. Page Smith, Provost
Cowell College, University of California, Santa Cruz
"History and Women"
1965 The Honorable Mildred L. Lillie
Justice, California District Court of Appeals
"Significant Status"
1964 Dr. Herbert John Davis
"The True Promethean Fire"
1963 Dr. Alan Willard Brown
"As on a Darkling Plain"
1962 Rachel Carson
Author, "Silent Spring"
1961 Irving M. Walker
"A Look Fore and Aft"
1960 Dr. Louis B. Wright
"A Mind for Leisure"
1959 Dr. Joseph B. Platt
"The Next Twenty Years"
1958 Dr. T. V. Smith
"Feminine Heroism"
1957 The Reverend George A. Buttrick
"Footnote on Progress"
1956 Peter H. Odegard
"The Time is Now"
1955 Vern O. Knudson
"Higher Education in Our Democracy"
1953 Sir Robert Hadow
"The Arbours, Bouquets, and Pleasances of Life"
1952 James Arnold Blaisdell
"A Solute to Scripps College"
1951 Louise Booker Wright
"The Lost Art of Reading"
1950 Lillian Moller Gilbreth
"A Tribute to Books"
1949 John Wendell Dodds
"Shadows and Realities"
1948 Marjorie Hope Nicolson
"And Gladly Teach"
1947 Lynn T. White, Jr.
"Heritage"
1946 Theodore M. Greene
"The Challenge of our Times"
1945 William A. Nitze
"In Retrospect: The Liberal Arts at Commencement"
1944 Louis B. Wright
"Women on the Cultural Frontier"
1943 Frank C. Baxter
"The One and the Many"
1941 Henry Purmort Eames
"The Canons and Currency of Beauty"
1937 Everett Dean Martin
"The Open Mind"
1936 Ernest J. Jaqua
"Are Women Being Educated"
1934 Avery O. Crave
"Social Intelligence"
1933 Susan Miller Dorsey
1932 Nathaniel W. Stephenson
1931 Dr. Edward A. Steiner
"The New Woman in the New World "