Colbert Balances Wit and Wisdom in UVa Valediction Speech

By: Jessica Cunnington Email
By: Jessica Cunnington Email

May 18, 2013

Stephen Colbert, the writer, host and executive producer of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central kicked off Final Exercises for the Class of 2013 and kept everyone laughing, despite the rainy day.

"Earlier this morning, I had a little tour around your beautiful campus and I just asked myself, 'Why are you leaving?'" Colbert said as he began his valediction address to the Class of 2013, family and friends.

With less than a day left before officially graduating, students say they're grateful for having Colbert give them last minute words of wisdom.

"If you must find your own path and we have not left you an easy path, then decide now to take the hard path that leads to the world and the life that you want," Colbert said.

"It was definitely epic," said Christine Ngo, a soon-to-be UVa graduate."I think he really hit all the points about graduation and being sad about moving on but at the same time remembering all the fun times we had here."

Many said it was the perfect balance of inspiration and comedy.

"UVa students are incredible," Colbert said. "The men are all gentlemen. And the women are all the most beautiful and intelligent in the world. I'm not just saying that because I dated a UVa girl. I'm saying it because I married one."

Colbert's wife, Evelyn McGee-Colbert, attended UVa and came to Charlottesville for this year's valediction exercises.

"Colbert was great because he gave a message it wasn't all humor," said Bob Madden who came to see a family member graduate.

Families and students woke up Saturday morning to the news that the event was being moved from the lawn to John Paul Jones arena because of rain. But that didn't take away from Colbert's performance at all.

"He somehow managed to make an inspirational speech funny it was not the cliche , typical stuff you usually hear," said David Aramony, class of 2013.

It was unforgettable for students but also their relatives.

"I don't remember who the speaker was at our valedictory exercises but I'll definitely remember this one," said Toby Sfreddo, UVa alum and father.

"I've attended a lot more graduations than he has and it is the most memorable one I've witnessed," said Rosemary Aramony.

"For such a famous guy, we're pretty honored he knew so much about the university," John Nay of the Class of 2012 said.

From the rich history of UVa to the recent awards and rankings, to even all the special UVa terms, students say he certainly ended the speech perfectly.

"Congratulations Class of 2013, Wahoo-wa!"

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