In a tumultuous and triumphant year, women are dominating as college commencement speakers

(CNN)2018 is indeed shaping up to be the year of the woman.

Entertainment events have been dominated by talk of #MeToo, of survivorship and sisterhood, of excellence and equality.
Women are taking their political convictions to the streets with renewed vigor, and a historic number of women are running for office in this year's midterm elections.
And behind podiums across the country this spring, women from every professional and political stripe will be sharing their stories with graduating college classes.

    What a female-led graduation ceremony looks like

    The Savannah College of Art and Design, one of the most prominent design schools in the world, was founded in 1978 by a woman: Paula Wallace, who now serves as the university's president.
    This graduation season, the university hosted a trio of powerful female speakers at their three international campuses: Actress Hilary Swank spoke in Savannah, film producer Juliet Blake spoke in Atlanta and Wen Zhou, CEO of the fashion brand 3.1 Phillip Lim, is set to speak at the university's Hong Kong campus.
    On June 1 in Savannah, Swank told graduates the two critical things emerging creators need are "perseverance and integrity" and that the early challenges of her career -- getting fired, being unemployed -- paved the way for her eventual success.
    "Inevitably, the universe is going to throw some very ugly curve balls at you," said the two-time Oscar winner. "No matter what they look like, never assume that any of them are bad."
    Oprah Winfrey also made a surprise appearance at the Atlanta ceremony.
    "We're all seeking to be the truest, purest, highest expression of ourselves as human beings," she told graduates. "And so you've been able to do that here at this university -- express yourself fully, artfully, collaboratively, with each other, with yourself."
    Both Winfrey and Swank were presented with honorary doctorate degrees from the university.
    Oprah Winfrey speaks at the SCAD commencement in Atlanta.
    In her own speech, Wallace, who founded the university while still in her twenties, mentioned a common phenomenon shared by powerful women: That there is no singular identity for greatness.
    "When I first created SCAD, I was an educator ... not a historic preservationist, writer, speech maker or diplomat," she said. "But I've had to learn to be all those things, just as you will find yourselves cast in so many surprising roles ... because your dreams require it."

    What other schools are doing

    At schools around the country, the array of female commencement speakers this spring reads like a who's who of political and cultural relevancy:
    Cynthia Nixon, actress, activist, LGBT figure and New York gubernatorial candidate, spoke at Helene Fuld College of Nursing earlier this month.
    Ava DuVernay, director of this year's genre-bending adaptation of "A Wrinkle in Time," will speak at Cornell.