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5 of the Best Conservative Commencement Speeches of 2013


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Colleges across the United States have churned out yet another crop of graduates who will soon learn that the days of sleeping past 8:30 are long, long gone.

Members of the class of 2013 will now have to go out and fight each other for a place in this fragile economy or face the shame of having to move in with their parents.

It’s usually a scary and stressful time for many graduates. Luckily, however, before they’re ushered out the door, four-pointed cap in hand, graduating students are given some words of wisdom and encouragement from their commencement speakers.

And although left-leaning personalities seem to have a monopoly on addressing graduating classes, a few conservatives in 2013 did deliver some pretty inspiring commencement speeches.

Here are our top five [in no particular order]:

5. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York (Notre Dame)

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. (AP)

“Now, as you complete years at this acclaimed university dedicated to her, you are asked the same pivotal question the Archangel Gabriel once posed to her: will you let God take flesh in you? Will you give God a human nature? Will He be reborn in you? Will the Incarnation continue in and through you?” Cardinal Dolan asked Notre Dame’s graduating class.

“Here our goal is not just a career, but a call; not just a degree, but discipleship; not just what we’ve gotten but what we’re giving; not just the now but eternity; not just the ‘I’ but the ‘we’; not just the grades but the gospel,” he added:

4. Senator Ted Cruz (Hillsdale College)

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). (AP)

"Areas under the yoke of dependency on government are among the least joyous parts of our society,” Senator Cruz said.

“The story of Julia is not an attractive utopia. We all flourish instead when afforded opportunity, the ability to work and create and accomplish. Economic growth and opportunity is the answer that works,” he added:

3. Colleen Campbell, TV Host & Former Speechwriter for George W. Bush (Franciscan University of Steubenville)

Colleen Carroll Campbell. (

Be able to “know how to say yes when God calls you to scrap your plans and do the unexpected,” Campbell urged the class of 2013.

“We can even get stuck clinging to what God asked of us yesterday, and so find ourselves unable to heed his call on our lives today,” she said.

The saints, she added, teach us how to move forward in life. God’s call to St. Francis to “rebuild my Church” wasn’t simply a request “for some pro bono carpentry work,” she noted.

“Imagine what the world would have lost had Francis gotten stuck on his original interpretation of God’s call and failed to embrace the more radical mission the Lord had planned for him,” she said.

2. Congressman Paul Ryan (Benedictine College)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) (AP)

"If we continue to believe that the war on poverty is primarily a government responsibility, then we will continue to weaken our communities," Rep. Ryan said. "We will drift further apart as people."

"Free enterprise doesn't reward greed," he continued. "It rewards value — because competition checks greed. And there's no greater opportunity for greed than government cronyism. Greed knows how to exploit the pages of regulations."

"Free enterprise helps workers help themselves — because work gives people more than a paycheck. It gives them a sense of pride — a sense of purpose. It makes them part of their communities,” he said.

"Happiness can't be bought and sold. And it can't be legislated. Earning your just rewards from achievement and hard work promotes human flourishing and happiness," he added.

1. Ryan T. Anderson, The Heritage Foundation (Regent University)

Ryan T. Anderson. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

“[T]he obligations we have to our neighbors are not dependent on race, or sex, or social class. Neither are those duties dependent on age, or size, or stage of development. Or whether someone is wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned, healthy or sick, ‘perfect’ or disabled,” Anderson said.

“This starts with you and me. We need to love our children. Graduating class, if you have a daughter with Down syndrome, love her. If your son is conceived ‘by accident,’ love him,” he continued [his remarks begin at the 42:33 mark]:

“Your children will be educated in this society. And as mothers and fathers you have the responsibility to care for and educate your children,” he said.

“Government should empower you to fulfill those duties. It shouldn’t interfere or indoctrinate. Nor should it use healthcare laws or anti-bullying programs to promote a sexual ideology at odds with the values that responsible parents try to instill in their children,” he added.


Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

Featured image Getty Images.

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