May 14, 2009

BethSo obviously the biggest buzz in the Valley this week was President Barack Obama’s visit to ASU to speak at the general commencement ceremony.  A friend of mine was graduating but wasn’t planning on attending (well, he was, but as a videographer, not in his cap and gown) so he passed off his tickets to me and a couple others.

Alice CooperWe had to arrive at 3:30 and I was stressed thinking about how light rail transit was going to run, how much of a hassle it would be getting through security and how awful the heat would be.  Surprisingly, though, everything went smoothly. 

The getting there part wasn’t half the nightmare I expected it to be.  Dealing with 70,000 people could have been mass chaos, and yet…it totally wasn’t.  Everything was well-organized and there were plenty of security and volunteers on hand to answer questions and guide attendees to the right place.  Even the men working the metal detectors were in good spirits and giving us a hard time about (among other things) our hat hair and the fact that I had a small can of hairspray in my purse.

50-year gradsThe worst part about the whole day was, of course, doing everything in the blazing heat, but that was to be expected.  Sunscreened, hydrated and wearing hats, it was hot but worth it.

It was also nice that we were allowed to bring in cameras and cell phones after all, so I got to capture some of the highlights: Alice Copper’s performance; the recognition of alumni from the class of 1959 – ASU’s first year as a university (pictured above, in gold gowns); and the President’s speech, below.

President Obama speaks at commencement

ObamaRegardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that the speech he gave was both inspiring and realistic.  And funny!  I feel truly privileged to have seen it in person.


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