Betesegaw Tadele: Ethiopian inspiration from America
By Befekir Kebede
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 22:19
Betesegaw Tadele is a young Ethiopian who currently lives in the United States. He first arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2009 to embark on a computer science degree with a minor in mathematics at Morehouse College – an all-male, historically black college.
Four years later, it was his graduation in May 2013 and because of his academic achievements, he was the Valedictorian of the college’s graduating class of 2013. At the graduation ceremony Betesegaw was introduced as a Morehouse student, who won the departmental awards in every math class he took. Winning the computer science department’s leadership and scholarship award was also among his achievements.
The college’s president presented the Valedictorian Betesegaw Tadele on stage with pride and broke the news to everyone that after graduation, Betesegaw would be moving to Seattle, Washington, where he had accepted a position with Microsoft Corporation as a software development engineer.
The attendees of the ceremony were also reminded of the fact that Betesegaw had served the college with distinction as vice-president and president of the Computer Science Club.
The icing on the cake came to Betesegaw when it was confirmed that the American President Barack Obama would give the commencement speech at his graduation.
And as the 129th commencement of Morehouse College got underway, attended by the new graduates and their proud families, the Valedictorian Betesegaw Tadele took centre stage to deliver what would be one of the most important speeches he would ever give.
President Barack Obama sat on stage to listen to what this young Morehouse College student from Ethiopia had to say on his graduation as the Valedictorian.
Betesegaw stood right behind the lectern carrying the seal of the President of the United States for five and a half minutes to say the following words:
Mr. President – illustrious leader of these United States, other distinguished members of the platform, faculty, staff, parents, guardians, and especially to my fellow classmates – Men of the Morehouse College graduating class of 2013.
Ladies and gentlemen!
We shall remember this day! Donning our gowns, straitening our caps, circling our necks with various representations of the excellence of our four-year journey, marching proudly across the campus that we have come to know and to love so well.
We shall remember this day! We came in as freshmen, marching together to be welcomed to the house, marching together to orientation sessions, marching together to divisional meetings and advisement sessions. And finally to that infamous parents parting ceremony where we said goodbye to our childhood and girded up our loins to engage the challenges of becoming men.
Today, as graduating seniors, we came into this place – again – marching together, brother to brother, but this time, to leave to go our separate ways, to blaze new trails, to ford new streams, to chisel new stones into masterpieces that will leave the place where they stand better than we found them.
We shall remember this day! As we leave to go out into a word that is sure to test our mettle, scrutinize our strong academic preparation and challenge our resolve to lead lives not for our glorification, but for service to others.
For we are world changers, because we do not hesitate to recognize that though the world has come a long way, we still dare to imagine a better world: free of poverty, free of corruption, free of social ills, free of debilitating disease and free of man’s inhumanity to man.
We dare to imagine a world where we are literally reaching for the stars.
We dare to image a world where we can all live harmoniously with one another. And yes, we dare to imagine a world where brotherhood and sisterhood characterize all human relationships.
We will remember this day because our parents and guardians, our teachers and mentors, our role models and trailblazers made it possible for us to achieve, encouraged us to excel in arenas never engaged before.
Today, we must say thank you!
We will remember this day! Because this commencement, this glorious day of celebration and exultation gave us the rare opportunity to be among the few graduates, anywhere, who will remember 50 years from now who was their commencement speaker.
We can never forget on this day, we, the men of the 2013 graduating class of Morehouse College were privileged and honored to hear words of indescribable inspiration from one who demonstrates everyday that there is no impossible and there is no unbelievable, and there is no unachievable if you have the audacity to hope – words that are lived out everyday by President Barack Hussein Obama.
It is this daring attitude, this willingness to challenge the naysayers and the scoffers that will take us, members of the dynamic Morehouse College graduating class of 2013, to places never dreamed before, all because we came to an institution called Morehouse College, all because we came to a place that enabled us to grow, develop, achieve, believe and excel.
And for this, our hearts will forever sing:
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit
Make us steadfast, honest, true,
To old Morehouse and her ideals,
And in all things that we do.
Betesegaw was given a standing ovation for this inspirational speech and for the passion he showed delivering it.
Clearly impressed, President Barack Obama gave Betesegaw a handshake and a hug before affectionately describing him in his commencement speech as “a skinny guy with a funny name.”
Another highlight of the ceremony was when members of Betesegaw’s family, including his mother, father and sister, were asked to “please stand and be recognized.”
Here is a video of the graduation ceremony where Valedictorian Betesegaw Tadele delivered a very inspirational speech. Betesegaw’s speech starts at 35 minutes into this video.