President Obama delivered the commencement speech at Barnard College, an all-women’s college in New York, this afternoon in front of about 600 graduates.
The president praised the women who have influenced his life, including his mother, wife, and two daughters, in a speech laden with pro-women messages.
“You are now poised to make this the century where women shape not only their own destiny, but the destiny of this nation and world,” the president said. “But how far your leadership takes this country, this world, that will be up to you. You’ve got to want it. It will not be handed to you.”
He told the graduates to “fight for a seat at the head of the table,” and to “embrace and rekindle” the “can-do spirit” of America.
“It’s up to you to stand up and be heard… don’t be content to stand back and watch,” the president said.
He also got in several jokes while interweaving heavier messages about an economy he believes will turn around. While pressing a point about young women turning away from popular culture toward more serious matters, he joked they could still care a little bit about that stuff.
“You can be stylish and powerful, too,” according to First Lady Michelle Obama, he paraphrased.
Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney delivered a commencement speech Saturday at Liberty University, a Christian school in Virginia founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.
The crowd applauded as he reaffirmed his position that “marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”
Romney peppered much of his speech at the religious school with talk of faith, family, and service.
In this season of commencement addresses, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the graduating class Virginia Tech on Friday. She praised the students for continued resilience following a mass shooting on campus in 2007, as well as their strong “community.”