An MIT Alumni Association Publication

In many ways, reunion weekend takes people back in time—refreshing memories of youthful days on campus and of Commencement, the moment new graduates join MIT’s alumni community. 

This year’s OneMIT Commencement ceremony will take place in Killian Court starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 1. The featured speaker will be popular YouTuber Mark Rober, an engineer, educator, and founder of CrunchLabs. 

Do you remember who spoke at your graduation?

Slice of MIT looked back at some of the speeches given to this year’s reunion classes during past Commencements. Browse the following list to see how their words of wisdom have stood the test of time.


1988 – A. Bartlett Giamatti, President of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs and President Emeritus of Yale University

“To have the moral courage, to avoid the selfishness of self-righteousness, and to assert positively the need we each of us has for the other, that is the real work of humankind.”

1993 – Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President of the United Mexican States

"As you finish your higher education today, you are now being challenged to make a transformation, perhaps the most important of your life. There are two ways to look at it. You are either standing at the crest of change, and can increase its impetus, or you can attempt to resist, and eventually be swept away. Do not drift."

1998 – William Clinton, President of the United States | David Ho, Physician and AIDS Researcher

“We must make important choices. We can extend opportunity to all Americans or leave many behind. We can erase lines of inequity or etch them indelibly. We can accelerate the most powerful engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known or allow the engine to stall.”
– Clinton

“Never permit the excellence of your work to be compromised. Believe in what you are doing.”
-David Ho

2003 – George Mitchell, Former United States Senator from Maine

“There is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended. Conflicts are created and sustained by human beings; they can be ended by human beings.”

2008 – Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, 2006

“Big problems are often just an aggregation of little problems.”

2013 – Drew Houston ’05, Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of Dropbox

“The happiest and most successful people I know don’t just love what they do, they’re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them.”

2018 – Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook

“The most difficult problems and the greatest opportunities are not technical, they are human.”

MIT Commencement speakers full list

View an accessible PDF of all the guest speakers at MIT Commencement through the years.

To learn more, explore MIT Commencement speakers and last year's brief history in Slice of MIT.