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Obama Delivers Inspirational Message to Class of 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama has delivered his first commencement address since taking office, a speech to the graduating class of Arizona State University, in the American southwest. The president has a lot of advice for the class of 2009.

The president says the class of 2009 is leaving college at a time of economic uncertainty. But he urges these new graduates to seize the opportunity to make the world a better place.

"I know starting your careers in troubled times is a challenge," President Obama said. "But it is also a privilege. Because it is moments like these that force us to try harder, to dig deeper, to discover gifts we never knew we had -- to find the greatness that lie within each of us."

In many ways, it was a classic commencement address.

There were no new pronouncements of policy. Instead, there were words meant to inspire.

President Obama told the graduating class at Arizona State that what drives them through life should not be money, celebrity or power, but a higher calling.

"A willingness to follow your passions, regardless of whether they lead to fortune or fame," Mr. Obama said. "A willingness to question conventional wisdom and rethink the old dogmas."

The president talked about what he calls the selfishness and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington that resulted in a national economic crisis. He says it is time to do things differently.

"That is why we are going to need your help," the president said. "We'll need young people like you to step up. We need your daring and your enthusiasm and your energy."

Mr. Obama got a warm welcome in this university in the desert. This was the first of three commencement addresses the president is scheduled to deliver this month.

The reception is likely to be far different on Sunday, when he arrives at the University of Notre Dame in the Midwestern state of Indiana.

Notre Dame has ties to the Roman Catholic church, which has taken a strong anti-abortion stand. And, protesters have vowed to make their presence know when the president, who supports abortion rights, arrives on campus.