Best commencement speeches of 2012 (Video)

WASHINGTON – Graduation season is well underway. Millions of college students are pouring into fields and stadiums to receive diplomas and start life as adults. But before throwing their caps in the air, grads receive bits of advice during a time-honored tradition: the commencement speech.

Some speeches are boring, and some are long. Some are awkward, like Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank’s address at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Referring to the hooded academic robe that civil rights leader Hubie Jones received at the commencement on Sunday, the Democrat said “You now have a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at you,” in a reference to the Trayvon Martin case.

The comment drew nervous laughter and groans from the crowd. Martin was the Florida teen who was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch activist.

Barney later apologized for the gaffe, but the damage was done. Those grads will likely always remember the inappropriate joke made during their ceremony.

Other notable figures were more successful with their speeches this graduation season. WTOP has compiled a list of the five most interesting orations. Watch the videos below:

Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent – University of Michigan

Colin Powell, former secretary of state- Northeastern University

Jane Lynch, actress – Smith College

Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter – Syracuse University

Neil Gaiman, writer – University of the Arts, Philadelphia

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP and the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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