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Graduating P.H.D. and Masters students head towards Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto on Friday, June 15, 2012.Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Kristin Hodgins, Victoria: "The most memorable convocation speech I ever heard was given by Douglas Coupland at my graduation from UBC in May, 2010. He began his speech by pondering what it would mean for someone to vanish, and what would be left behind ... [and] came to the conclusion that DNA was the only thing unique to a person.... He concluded his speech not with tired, clichéd platitudes about dreaming big and changing the world, but rather said, 'There's a lot to be said for having a small, manageable dream. Like owning a corn stand.' I will never forget that line or that speech." – Speech by Douglas Coupland, author, at University of British Columbia in May, 2010

Nick Heger, Calgary: "He told the story of his father who, in his will, left 500 pounds to his employer for all the times he might have accidentally taken home office supplies, and how you should always do the right thing; and the story of an Olympic athlete in Vancouver who finished with a bronze medal skiing with broken ribs and a punctured lung. It boiled down to: don't let anyone tell you what you can't do. It was the best speech I've ever heard." – Speech by John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee, at University of Calgary in June, 2012

Glenna Munro, Toronto: "Matthew Jocelyn returned to his old high school to tell students that, during his time there, it was the last time in his life that he could be fairly certain of giving the correct answers to the questions being asked. He told students that, as they stepped out in the world from that point on, the answers would never be so easy to find. For him, theatre was the way to work through the mysteries that life would present. It was a humble but striking speech." – Speech by Mathew Jocelyn, artistic and general director at the Canadian Stage Company, at Malvern Collegiate in November, 2010

Elizabeth Dingman, Toronto: "Last year, Emory Law School professor Sara Stadler gave a very controversial commencement speech that I thought was terrific. The line most quoted and discussed is: 'The one thing standing in the way of your happiness is a sense of entitlement.' She also says that givers tend to be happy people, and takers are never satisfied. Sound advice to my ears, but a lot of the law grads hated it, apparently." – Speech by Sara Stadler, law professor, at Emory University in May, 2011

Susan Schnarr, Waterloo, Ont.: "David Suzuki at my convocation at Conestoga College in 1978. He was not that well known then. I have been a follower of his career ever since. I always remember that day how impressed my dad was of David's speech. Whoever arranged to have David as a speaker recognized his talent and gave the graduating students a truly memorable convocation speech." – Speech by David Suzuki, scientist and environmentalist, at Conestoga College in the fall of 1978