congratulations to all the seniors on high school and college campuses.

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 10, 2019

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Submitted: June 10, 2019



Congratulations to all the seniors on High School and College campuses.


Here are some of Obama’s commencement speeches:


On the value of old-fashioned, hard work

To Kalamazoo High School on June 8, 2010:

Understand that your success in life won’t be determined just by what’s given to you, or what happens to you, but by what you do with all that’s given to you—what you do with all that happens to you. How hard you try, how far you push yourself, how high you’re willing to reach.  True excellence only comes with perseverance. This wasn’t something I really understood when I was back your age.

On the opinions of others

To the University of Michigan on May 1, 2010:

These arguments we’re having over government and health care and war and taxes—these are serious arguments. They should arouse people’s passions, and it’s important for everybody to join in the debate, with all the vigor that the maintenance of a free people requires.

But we can’t expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question somebody’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like “socialists” and “Soviet-style takeover” and “fascist” and “right-wing nut”—that may grab headlines, but it also has the effect of comparing our government, our political opponents, to authoritarian, even murderous regimes.

On steady, unfailing character

To the US Naval Academy on May 24, 2013:

We need your honor. That inner compass that guides you, not when the path is easy and obvious, but when it’s hard and uncertain; that tells you the difference between that which is right and that which is wrong. Perhaps it will be a moment when you think nobody is watching. But never forget that honor, like character, is what you do when nobody is looking. More likely it will be when you’re in the spotlight, leading others—the men and women who are looking up to you to set an example.

Never ask them to do what you don’t ask of yourself. Live with integrity and speak with honesty and take responsibility and demand accountability.

On responsibility—and humility

To Lake Area Technical Institute on May 8, 2015:

I hope that’s something you keep in mind as you walk across the stage today: that gratification that comes with helping someone find their path; for making yourself useful not just to yourself, but to others. For you haven’t just earned new opportunities with this degree; you’ve also earned responsibilities along with it.

That’s who we are as Americans. We are rugged individuals. We haven’t lost that pioneering spirit that brought many of our grandparents and great-grandparents to these plains. We ask for nothing more than the chance to blaze our own trail. And yet each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, helped us find our path.

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