Every year about now, I love checking out the various commencement speeches that send our latest class of college graduates into the world. There's lots of "follow your dreams" stuff, but you can find some deep thoughts in there, too.

So far this year, music is a common theme: Maya Rudolph tapped her inner Beyoncé with an epic "Star Spangled Banner" at Tulane. Ed Helms joined the University of Virginia's a cappella group, the Hullabahoos, to serenade Cav grads with "This Little Light of Mine." And Matthew McConaughey even talked naked bongo drumming with the University of Houston's Class of '15.

Here are some more snippets of advice to soak up as graduation season rolls on:

"When it comes to the arts," Robert DeNiro told the grads of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, "passion should always trump common sense." (That's exactly what every English grad's parents have been saying all along!)

Meredith Vieira went with a pop culture reference from a recent Super Bowl halftime show gaffe to make her point at Boston University: "Don't ever be a conformist for convenience... Or, as Mark Twain put it, 'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.'

"Be the left shark," Vieira concluded.

Apple CEO Tim Cook struck a serious tone as he laced his George Washington University speech with reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Life, he said, is "about finding your values, and committing to them. It's about finding your North Star. It's about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything."

Another comes from visionary director Christopher Nolan, who told Princeton grads he remembered being fresh out of college, feeling he "had accumulated this whole wheel of Brie of knowledge!

"What I realize is, it's actually Swiss cheese," Nolan continued, "those gaps in there are the point. They're the important part, because you're going to get out there and fill those gaps you didn't even know you had, and you're going to fill them with experience. Some of it marvelous, some of it terrible... Some of those gaps will be filled with the most precious thing of all: new thought, new ideas, things that are going to change the world."

But the star of the season has to be Jimmy Buffett, who spoke at the University of Miami, not far from his preferred habitat of sea and sand. Wearing sunglasses and flip-flops, he finished by simply quoting this bit of timeless wisdom: "One love / one life / let's get together / and feel all right."♦

Reclaiming Culture: The Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska Repatriation @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...