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Moco native to join Obama as U. of Michigan graduation speaker

Jenna Johnson

More than 80,000 people are expected to gather to hear President Obama speak at the University of Michigan Saturday morning -- oh, and celebrate the graduation of thousands of students.

And the senior selected to represent all of those students and speak eloquently on their behalf for four minutes: Alex Marston, who grew up in Rockville.

picture of me.jpgMarston, 22, is an English major who dreams of working as a speech writer. So when he heard the POTUS would give the university's spring commencement address (he thought his friends were joking when he first heard the news), Marston decided to enter the college's annual student speaker competition.

He typed up a speech about change and how difficult it is for leaders to actually bring about change. Obama is the main example, Marston said, but Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez's attempts to turn the team around also illustrate the point.

Marston recorded himself reading the speech and sent it along to commencement officials. Out of all the entries, his was selected.

There was celebration. Plans to fly even more relatives to Ann Arbor. And then, lots of work: Marston had to cut about a third of his speech so that there would be no chance of going over the four-minute allotment ("Hopefully they won't start playing music and pull me off the stage," he jokes). He worked with a retired speech professor to perfect the art of public speaking, a relatively new thing for Marston.

"I only have four minutes to speak, so it's definitely difficult to get something meaningful across," he said. "I want to represent students on some level."

Marston graduated from Thomas S. Wootton High School in 2006 and decided to attend Michigan after receiving a Stamps Scholarship. He's also a legacy: His mother attended Michigan. So did his grandparents, who met in an English class.

Marston still isn't sure what he will do after graduation. He plans to move home to Rockville and look for a government job, perhaps as a speech writer. So, he says with a laugh, Saturday will be "a perfect job audition for me."

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By Jenna Johnson  |  April 28, 2010; 7:20 PM ET
Categories:  Real World  | Tags: University of Michigan  
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Good Luck !

Posted by: onesugar | April 29, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

This kid was fantastic. He made a crack about how when someone wants change, some people are always going to resist, while looking back at Obama. It had Obama cracking up, and he earned a shoutout during Obama's speech.

Posted by: als15 | May 1, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

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