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President Obama delivered the commencement address at Arizona State University on Wednesday night.
Obama began by gently teasing ASU officials over the controversy involving the school not awarding him an honorary degree:
Now, before I begin, I'd like to clear the air about that little controversy everyone was talking about a few weeks back. I have to tell you, I really thought it was much ado about nothing, although I think we all learned an important lesson. I learned to never again pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA bracket. And your university President and Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.
He went on to urge the graduating students to get involved in their communities and avoid getting caught up in the trappings of success or risk turning into Bernie Madoffs:
In the face of these challenges, it may be tempting to fall back on the formulas for success that have dominated these recent years. Many of you have been taught to chase after the usual brass rings: being on this "who's who" list or that top 100 list; how much money you make and how big your corner office is; whether you have a fancy enough title or a nice enough car...
I want to highlight two main problems with that old approach. First, it distracts you from what is truly important, and may lead you to compromise your values, principles and commitments. Think about it. It's in chasing titles and status - in worrying about the next election rather than the national interest and the interests of those they represent - that politicians so often lose their way in Washington. It was in pursuit of gaudy short-term profits, and the bonuses that come with them, that so many folks lost their way on Wall Street...
The trappings of success may be a by-product of this larger mission, but they can't be the central thing. Just ask Bernie Madoff.
Read about the controversy surrounding the event HERE.
Read the full text of Obama's prepared remarks.
Watch video of the speech:
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