Joyce Carol Oates Delivers Commencement Address

By Maryann Yin 

Famed author Joyce Carol Oates gave a commencement address at the graduation ceremony for Niagara County Community College’s class of 2015. The video embedded above features Oates delivering her speech. has posted her piece in its entirety.

Here’s an excerpt: “An attitude that goes beyond ambition into the realm of the spiritual, the uncharitable; what in boxing, as perhaps in other sports, is called ‘heart’—the indefinable core of an individual that declares I WILL NOT GIVE UP; I WILL PERSEVERE. Without ‘heart’ an athlete might have a professional career but he/she cannot be a great champion. The writing students of mine who have gone on to be truly successful, in several cases quite impressive careers, were individuals who worked—worked—worked—and did not allow rejections to dissuade them of their inner worth.”

In the past, a great number of authors have given moving commencement speeches. Poet Mary Karr spoke about the purpose of poetry at the 2015 Syracuse University’s graduation. Coraline writer Neil Gaiman’s 2012 “Make Good Art” talk went viral. Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling’s 2008 “Very Good Lives” talk has drawn more than 1.5 million views on YouTube. (via