Eric Schmidt '76 delivered the Commencement address at Virginia Tech. (Courtesy Virginia Tech)

Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator LISA JACKSON *86, now the vice president of environmental initiatives at Apple Inc., will deliver Princeton’s Baccalaureate address at the University Chapel May 31. But Jackson is not the only alum speaking to graduates this spring. Below, read commencement advice for the Class of 2015 from six other Princetonians.

Eric Schmidt ’76 delivered the Commencement address at Virginia Tech. (Courtesy Virginia Tech)
Eric Schmidt '76 delivered the Commencement address at Virginia Tech. (Courtesy Virginia Tech)

Live Offline

At Virginia Tech, Google chairman ERIC SCHMIDT ’76, drew on inspiration from Metallica lead singer James Hetfield, who has said, “I choose to live, not just exist.” Schmidt expanded on that idea: “Choosing to live means life is not lived in the glow of a monitor. Life is not a series of status updates. Life is not about your friend count — it’s about the friends you can count on.”

Be True to Yourself

In more than six years as first lady, MICHELLE OBAMA ’85 told Tuskegee University graduates, she has endured a range of criticism and name-calling — some of it particularly cruel — but she came to realize it was “just noise.” “It did not define me,” she said. “It didn’t change who I was. And most importantly, it couldn’t hold me back.  … So, graduates, that’s what I want for all of you.  I want you all to stay true to the most real, most sincere, most authentic parts of yourselves.”

We’re in This Together

At the University of Oklahoma, WENDY KOPP ’89, CEO of Teach for All (and founder of Teach for America), urged graduates to look past U.S. parochialism and think about the larger world: “Today everything is interconnected — our economic prosperity, our environmental sustainability, our public safety and health.  When one economy topples, we all feel the effects. When educational disparities widen in one corner of the world, hopelessness festers and the whole world grows less safe.”

Change the World

At Colgate University, Princeton professor EDDIE GLAUDE *97 congratulated graduates for their role in a 100-hour occupation of the Administration Building last September, which aimed to make the campus more inclusive for minority students. He urged them to “get ready to do the glorious work of transforming this world.”

Believe in Yourself

STUART RABNER ’82, chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, told the graduating class at Montclair State to dream big: “How else can you expect to reach a meaningful goal if you don’t? … Second, don’t ever bet against yourself. Have the inner confidence to know you can achieve your dreams even if some around you may doubt that.”


Ariel Investments president MELLODY HOBSON ’91, speaking to seniors at the University of Southern California, compared the leap into life after college to a 24-mile-high jump by daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner. In both cases, fear is unavoidable, but fear makes bravery possible, she said: “Your bravest self will be your best self.”