A blog for Phoenix area women

Obama Turns ASU Graduation into City Spectacle

Every year, college graduation draws parents and friends from all over who come to celebrate their loved one’s commencement day. But when the first African-American President Barack Obama plans to speak at the ceremony, the event becomes more of a city spectacle attracting about seven times more people, hundreds more security officers and Secret Service officials and even a rock superstar. Officials are recommending guests arrive early tomorrow as traffic will of course ensue and security checkpoints may take up to 90-minutes to clear, thus adding to the amount of time spent in the sweltering heat. ASU Class of 09, lucky or not so lucky?


Despite the grueling process, almost all 9,267 graduating students are attending the ceremony and the event is expecting a record-breaking 71,000 people in attendance, the largest US college graduation in history and Obama’s biggest audience since his inauguration, according to The Arizona Republic.

The pre-ceremony show will start at 4:45 p.m. but ASU will be allowing some people to enter Sun Devil Stadium at 2:30 p.m. and will close the gates at 7 p.m. ASU has given those with tickets varied arrival times to reduce long lines at any one time or spot, especially in the expected high temperatures, according to The Arizona Republic.


The stadium is open-air and those who choose to see the pre-ceremony show will enjoy mariachis, a gospel choir, a performance by rock artist Alice Cooper and of course President Obama’s highly-anticipated speech, according to The Arizona Republic.

Following Obama’s address, ASU President Michael Crow will honor five high school students who will become the first recipients of ASU’s President Barack Obama Scholars program. These deserving students will receive up to $17,000 annually to aid in their tuition, books, room and board, according to The Arizona Republic. This scholarship program was created after the controversial refusal to award Obama with an ASU honorary degree.

The ceremony is expected to conclude at about 9 p.m. when fireworks will light up Tempe’s skies.

Officials are asking those attending to start hydrating a day earlier as heat is their main concern. They are also encouraging guests to take the Light Rail and other public transportation to reduce traffic, especially since Veteran’s Way and other surrounding streets near the stadium will be closed that day. There will be metal detectors at the event so guests should not bring any prohibited items, including purses or bags larger than 12 inches on any side, balloons, signs or posters, weapons, pointed or metal objects, air horns, Mace or pepper spray, according to The Arizona Republic.


  • Amelia says:

    This whole thing is crazy! Way more than your average graduation!!

  • sam says:

    it is going to be so hotttt and a long wait – – but totally worth it

  • Sasha says:

    Heat aside, I feel like I was jipped graduating in ’08 because it means I’ll miss this.

  • Elise says:

    I will be there! I hope, if I can fight my way through the traffic and lines. I just want to see my family friend graduate.

  • Elle says:

    This event is going to be crazy, but i will be watching it from my living room.

  • Debbie says:

    stay away from the East side today people. traffic is going to be insane.

  • Jessica says:

    i want to goooo!

  • jerry says:

    Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow’s hopelessly hyperbole filled introduction of President Obama was not the greatest source of embarrassment for ASU last Wednesday night. Instead, it was the unreported but undisputed fact that the stadium emptied while Obama was still there.

    After Obama gave his commencement address, Sun Devil Stadium started to empty. Keep in mind that many of these people came primarily to see Obama. As such, it is more than a little odd that these Obama worshipers felt that it was completely appropriate to turn literally turn their backs on their hero and walk away.

    Obama, to his credit, stayed for the entire program. He posed for photographs with the students given a scholarship that is now named after him, he shook hands with every Ph.D. candidate, and he gave the commissioning oath to the new Army and Air Force second lieutenants. He patiently waited while each academic college was called. He even sat through the pitch to join the ASU Alumni Association. His supporters, however, showed no such respect.

    It was a surreal feeling to watch 50,000 people get up and leave an event where the President of the United States remained in attendance. It also provided a bizarre example of the type of conduct that his supporters believe is appropriate.

  • Mollie says:

    From friends that went, I heard that it was miserable but that they would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • Jeanne says:

    I flew to Phoenix to see my niece graduate and also to see Obama. It was the most spectacular graduation I have ever been to. Obama spoke eloquently and did stay until the very end. His unscripted speech to the graduates about trying to make a difference in the word with their degrees is something the graduates will always remember. I was truly lucky to be in the same presence as the President of the United States, whether it be Obama or even Bush. It was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to be part of such a wonderful graduation ceremony. Alice Cooper was pretty cool, too!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.