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From Trump to Oprah, speakers offer parting advice to grads

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/25/2017 By COLLIN BINKLEY, Associated Press
FILE - In thisMay 12, 2017 file photo, actor Will Ferrell gestures as he speaks at the University of Southern California's Class of 2017 commencement ceremony in Los Angeles. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In thisMay 12, 2017 file photo, actor Will Ferrell gestures as he speaks at the University of Southern California's Class of 2017 commencement ceremony in Los Angeles. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

BOSTON (AP) — Famous figures from entertainment, politics and business are giving commencement speeches at colleges across the country.

FILE - In this May 16, 2017 file photo, musician Jon Bon Jovi performs during a surprise appearance at the Fairleigh Dickinson University commencement ceremony at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 16, 2017 file photo, musician Jon Bon Jovi performs during a surprise appearance at the Fairleigh Dickinson University commencement ceremony at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Colleges have different approaches when it comes to picking speakers. Some leave it to administrators. Others gather input from students. Many compete for marquee speakers who will dazzle the audience and inspire alumni to become donors, all while avoiding controversy.

In this photo taken May 17, 2017, President Donald Trump waves after giving the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) © The Associated Press In this photo taken May 17, 2017, President Donald Trump waves after giving the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Speakers this year include President Donald Trump, talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks.

FILE - In this May 21, 2017 file photo, Oprah Winfrey waves during Smith College's 139th Commencement exercises in Northampton, Mass. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (David Molnar/Springfield Republican via AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 21, 2017 file photo, Oprah Winfrey waves during Smith College's 139th Commencement exercises in Northampton, Mass. Oprah Winfrey told students to live with purpose. President Donald Trump said to ignore the naysayers. Will Ferrell sang some Whitney Houston. Those are a few of the speakers who have taken the stage at college graduation ceremonies this month to share their wisdom, joining a wide range of others in entertainment, politics and business. In their efforts to inspire the Class of 2017, they’ve elicited both laughter and tears and, in some cases, jeers. (David Molnar/Springfield Republican via AP, File)

Michael Frick, CEO of Speaking.com in California, says colleges are looking for high-profile speakers who will impress students, parents and alumni. They also want to get some publicity for the school but not take away from the students' moment.

Even with a wider range of speakers, the messages to graduates haven't changed much over the years.

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