Stars Line Up to Give College Commencement Speeches

Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Obama and Kanye West among speakers.

— -- All right, all right, all right -- it's college graduation season and some of the biggest stars are lining up to address the Class of 2015.

Not everyone is all right, however, with the news that the university is paying the actor $135,000, plus travel expenses, to deliver his address.

According to a statement from the University of Houston, McConaughey will donate his $130,000 speaking fee to his jk livin Foundation, which the actor started to help high school students lead active and healthy lives.

Meanwhile, here are some inspirational words from a few boldfaced names who have already spoken:

"I am a pop artist," Kanye West said during his commencement speech at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received an honorary doctorate Monday. "So my medium is public opinion and the world is my canvas. 'I'm sorry' is something that you can use a lot. It gives you the opportunity to give your opinion. Apologize for it. And give your opinion again. People say, 'You should not be sorry for your opinions!'"

West also opened up about experiencing an unusual feeling -- for him.

"I felt my nerves a bit, and I don't feel that feeling a lot," he said. "The nerves of humility and modesty when being honored. A humanization, a reality of being recognized. And all I thought as I sit here, kind of shaking a little bit is... I need to get rid of that feeling. I need to not be nervous."

"Margaritaville" singer Jimmy Buffett addressed the University of Miami's graduating class last Friday in his signature style: flip flops and aviator sunglasses (he forgot his reading glasses."

He summed up his advice for the "ever-elusive future" into a checklist: Everything in moderation. Make your avocation your vocation. Go see the world. And "be Santa Claus when you can."

He also encouraged students to not waste time. "Use your time well," he said. "Beware of falling into the sedentary trap."

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to a crowd of nearly 4,000 at Alabama's historically black Tuskegee University about learning to let go of others' perceptions of her.

Recalling her husband President Barack Obama's first presidential campaign in 2008, she said Saturday, "As potentially the first African-American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?"

She referenced the satirical New Yorker cover which portrayed her as a black panther as well as various nicknames and other offensive words used to describe her.

"All of this used to really get to me," she said. "Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if I might be hurting my husband's chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom."

Ultimately, she said, "I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do, and that was to have faith in God's plan for me. I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself -- and the rest would work itself out."

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin encouraged graduates of Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, this past Saturday to draw inspiration from President Abraham Lincoln.

"The hardest part of his self-education, he later said, was that he had few people with whom to discuss his ideas, to mentor him, to guide him," she said about the former president, who received almost no formal education.

Noting that many of the graduates will become teachers, Goodwin told them, "As you open up the world of learning to others, you will be like Lincoln, continually learning yourselves. What Lincoln would have given to have spent four years on this beautiful campus. All his life he regretted the want of a formal education, but he never stopped learning even after becoming a lawyer."

Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told graduates at the University of Massachusetts Amherst not to look for exact role models to follow.

"I think on some level, role models are overrated," Tyson told the audience last Friday. "Growing up in the Bronx, had I required, as a prerequisite, that another black man from the Bronx had become an astrophysicist for me to become one, I'd still be in the Bronx."

Instead, Tyson suggested that graduates create role models "a la carte," putting together pieces from various inspiring people to form their own identity.

Jason Kilar

Hulu founder Jason Kilar told graduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to persevere despite naysayers and personal struggles, some of which he shared.

After recalling how he arrived in Los Angeles for his first job interview after college only to learn his father had committed suicide, Kilar told the audience Sunday that he dug deep to find a "well of strength."

He called on that same strength when starting Hulu and encountering public ridicule.

"The typical human response in the face of the new is to ignore, mock or dismiss it," Kilar said. "New is scary. New is the unknown. Most everyone does not believe that the new will work...until it does."

He concluded, "If you think the world is broken in a certain way and you have a great new idea to fix it, do yourself a favor and pursue your convictions, relentlessly. The path I describe will be an uncertain one. But don’t let the fear of uncertainty, of not having all the answers, be the thing that holds you back from pursuing your dreams."