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‘The future of America depends on you’

'The truth is, being successful is hard.' -- President Obama "The truth is, being successful is hard." -- President Obama (Associated Press)
September 9, 2009

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“Every single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. . . .’’

“And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future. . . .’’

“Now, I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork. I get it. I know what it’s like. My father left my family when I was 2 years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us the things that other kids had. . . .

“So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been on school, and I did some things I’m not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. But I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams. . . .’’

“I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work - that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you’re not going to be any of those things.

“The truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject that you study. You won’t click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try. That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. . . .

“And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you, don’t ever give up on yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.’’