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Wisdom to go along with the pomp, circumstance

John Lewis, congressman and civil rights leader, will speak at Harvard University on May 24.
John Lewis, congressman and civil rights leader, will speak at Harvard University on May 24.(JIM LO SCALZO/European Pressphoto Agency/file 2016)

It's commencement season, an annual spring rite that transforms daily life in our college towns into a monthlong celebration. The sidewalks sprout caps and gowns, along with parents in their Sunday best. From podiums at colleges large and small, speakers dip into their bags of hard-earned wisdom. Here is a look at some of the notable commencement speakers at colleges around the region.

John Lewis

Congressman and civil rights leader, Harvard University, May 24

"In this ole' world, on this little piece of real estate that we call Earth, as Dr. Martin Luther King would say, we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or else we will perish as fools.'' —
to Washington University's Class of 2016

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Sheryl Sandberg

COO of Facebook and author, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, June 8

"Not sure where the future is taking you? Sometimes me too. And you know what helps you combat that fear? A very big idea captured in a very tiny word: hope." —
to Virginia Tech's
Class of 2017

Aimee Mullins

Actor, athlete, and advocate, Northeastern University, May 4

"In our desire to protect those we care about by giving them the cold, hard truth about their medical prognosis, or, indeed, a prognosis on the expected quality of their life, we have to make sure that we don't put the first brick in a wall that will actually disable someone."

— TEDMED talk, 2009

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory

Archbishop of Atlanta, Boston College, May 21

"We really are the same. . . . Wherever people are disconnected from one another, there is the possibility that they will begin to develop misconceptions about one another.''

— Catholic News Agency

Billy Collins

Former US poet laureate, Emerson College,
May 13

"My advice takes the form of a tiny injunction which can be put into two words: 'Don't graduate.' Even though you are leaving college, don't leave behind the habits of study, contemplation and open-minded discussion and introspection.'' — to College of Holy Cross's
Class of 2002

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Ellen J. Kullman

Former CEO of DuPont, Tufts University, May 20

"None of us know the challenges we will face. You will find out soon enough. My advice is, indulge yourself in constructive ways. Focus on the things that make you, and the people you love, fulfilled.'' — to MIT's
Class of 2014

Charlie Baker

Massachusetts governor, Worcester State University, May 19

"No job is all fun and games. . . . But if you do something you enjoy, the broccoli usually goes down right alongside the ice cream." — to Hamilton College's Class of 2017

Deval Patrick

Former Massachusetts governor, Bentley University, May 19

"I want us to ask ourselves hard questions and to ask our leaders hard questions about the state of the American Dream, why the poor are stuck in poverty and why the middle class are just one paycheck away from being poor.'' — to Harvard's Class of 2015

Tracy K. Smith

US poet laureate, Wellesley College, June 1

"There's a deep and interesting kind of troubling that poems do, which is to say: 'This is what you think you're certain of, and I'm going to show you how that's not enough.' ''

New York Times
Magazine

Jake Tapper

CNN anchor, UMass Amherst, May 11

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"Do not worry if you do not know what you want to do with the rest of your life; it is OK if you take years to figure it out. Wall Street, Silicon Valley, law school — they ain't going anywhere.'' — to Dartmouth College's
Class of 2017

Hauwa Ibrahim

International human rights lawyer, Clark University, May 20

"You do not fight ideology and extremists with weapons. We cannot defeat them with drones, I think we can do more than that. We have to get other strategies and tactics." — Global Campus of Human Rights

Geoffrey Canada

Educator and social activist, UMass Boston, May 25

"The only way we can have real equality in America is if we have equal access to quality education. A poor education guarantees that you will be trapped in a life of poverty. And what a trap." — to
the University of Pennsylvania's Class of 2012