President Obama Urges OSU Grads To Be Active Citizens

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President Obama addresses 2013 spring graduates at The Ohio State University.(Photo: WOSU)
President Obama addresses 2013 spring graduates at The Ohio State University.(Photo: WOSU)

Members of the spring graduating class at OSU entered Ohio stadium for their ceremony under tight security and heard President Obama encourage them to become participants in this nation’s democracy.

“You don’t have to run for office yourself, but I hope many of you do at all levels, because our democracy needs you. And I promise you it will give you a tough skin, I know a little bit about this. President Wilson once said if you want to make enemies try to change something,” Obama said.

Obama pointed out the turmoil in government and the tragic events from the Boston bombings to the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary, at a high school in Chardon Ohio and at a Colorado movie theatre.

The President stated that active citizenship can light the way toward a better nation.

“We are blessed with God given talents and inalienable rights, but with those rights come responsibilities with ourselves and others, to one another, and to future generations,” said Obama.

Graduate Jessica Jolly from Detroit, Michigan earned her Master’s degree in Health Administration and was excited the President spoke.

“It’s just super, it’s really amazing. This is historical for me and my family having the first African American President speaking at my graduation. It holds a lot of significance,” said Jolly.

22 year old Jessica Persinger of Washington Courthouse earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education and Human Ecology. Persinger says the President has led the way to making the most out of your life.

“To me he’s like the most important man in America. He makes a lot of great decisions for our country and he’s very important for the future of America. So it’s just very influential for him to come to speak to us. For someone who has come so far and he made a great person out of himself,” said Persinger.

Persinger and other graduates passed through metal detectors and bag checks as security was stepped up since the Boston Marathon bombings last month. Police also used bomb sniffing dogs and some rode on horseback to secure the stadium.

Graduate Michael Rose of Houston, Texas felt unsure of what would be accepted in The Shoe.

“It seems like the commencement committee had to scramble a little bit trying to figure out when we needed to be here and you know messaging was difficult. So definitely we felt I don’t want to say chaos, but we definitely feel the challenge that they had to do trying to run the event and get everyone through security,” Rose said.

President Obama also addressed challenges during his speech. He said the only thing certain about the decade ahead is that things will be uncertain. And he said while Americans have not been a people to place all of their faith in government to solve problems, government is not always the problem.

Obama also said the graduates have reason to have hope for the future.

“You’re graduating into an economy and a job market that is steadily healing. The once-dying American auto-industry is on pace for its strongest performance in 20 years, something that means everything to many communities in Ohio and across the Midwest,” Obama said.

Several graduates told WOSU they were headed back to school though for advanced degrees instead of looking for a job in their chosen career.

Watch President Obama’s commencement address as well as other highlights from the ceremony at 7:30 pm tonight on WOSU TV.