By Tadias Staff
Published: Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
New York (TADIAS) – How would you like to be a valedictorian at a graduation ceremony where the keynote speaker is the President of the United States? That’s exactly the opportunity that Ethiopian American Betsegaw Tadele, a computer science major at Morehouse College, received when President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at the historically black institution of higher education this past Sunday.
“We will remember this day,” Betsegaw told his classmates in his own well-received speech. “We will be among the few graduates 50 years from now who will remember who was their commencement graduation speaker.”
Invoking President Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope Betsegaw added: “There is no impossible. There is no unbelievable. There is no unachievable, if you have the audacity to hope.”
When it was Obama’s turn to take the stage after being introduced by Morehouse College president John Wilson he joked with Betsegaw. “I have to say that it’s a little hard to follow, not Dr. Wilson, but a skinny guy with a funny name — Betsegaw Tadele,” Obama said. “He is going to be doing something.”
On a more serious note to the graduates Obama said: “Whatever success I have achieved, whatever positions of leadership I’ve held, have depended less on Ivy League degrees or SAT scores or GPAs, and have instead been due to that sense of connection and empathy, the special obligation I felt, as a black man like you, to help those who need it most; people who didn’t have the opportunities that I had — because there, but for the grace of God, go I. I might have been in their shoes. I might have been in prison. I might have been unemployed. I might not have been able to support a family. And that motivates me.”
The President was also given an honorary doctorate from Morehouse. One of the school’s notable alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I am humbled to stand here with all of you as an honorary Morehouse Man. I finally made it,” Obama said to laughter. “And as I do, I’m mindful of an old saying: ‘You can always tell a Morehouse Man — but you can’t tell him much.’” He added: “And that makes my task a little more difficult, I suppose. But I think it also reflects the sense of pride that’s always been part of this school’s tradition.”
“It is not just the African-American community that needs you,” Obama, who became the first sitting president to speak at the Atlanta-based college, told the students who gathered among 10,000 family members and other spectators in a rain soaked afternoon. “The country needs you. The world needs you,” he said.