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Vergara 1
Elenis Vergara Martinez
Professor Maria Icaza
ENGL 102
25 September 2021
A Rhetorical Analysis on President Obama’s Message
for America’s Students
What is the difference between successful and unsuccessful people? That the former,
even when they fail, seek success and the latter simply give up. This is what the former president
of the United States of America, Barack Obama, delivered in his speech on September 8, 2009,
to American students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. His purpose is to
emphasizes not only the value of education for life but the importance of perseverance during
difficult times. He adopts a motivating and didactic tone to interact with his student audience.
The speaker began to build his trust with reliable facts and sources, evidencing compelling
personal and other people's stories to reinforce his appeal to logic and effectively use emotional
devices to interact with the audience and be able to signal the message of responsibility with
education.
The speech began with a presentation by a senior student describing his experience as a
student and the honor of being the one to introduce the president of the country the man who
has proven that "yes, we can.". This is an appeal to human ethics - an appeal to ethos. The senior
helps build Obama's credibility by recognizing his position, status, and professionalism toward
the country and the people. Furthermore, an appeal to ethos within discourse convinces listeners
of the great importance of education and the responsibility that comes with it. Obama wants the
audience to realize that every student has the ability to excel. To do this, he elaborates key
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persuasive statements in his speech. He shows it when he mentions "I've given a lot of speeches
on education and I've talked a lot about responsibility." He persuades the audience of his skill
and experience on the subject. Therefore, he uses the credibility of the president of a country and
gains that trust because people think that a person who deals with these issues on a daily basis
says so, which is a perfect example of the use of this rhetorical appeal.
Throughout his speech, Obama uses logic and reasoning to appeal to the audience and
create legitimacy. His argument is based on the guarantee of the necessity of education to
succeed in life. As it is known, for certain professions; such as a doctor, teacher, senator, a good
educational background is needed. Therefore, he clarified the fact that studies are indispensable
if you want to pursue those careers. To present further evidence of this concept, he mentions the
history of students from years ago who went to make a revolution, fought for civil rights, and
those who put the man on the moon. This gives objective reasons to the audience helping them to
create an internal argument on the subject. In addition, one of his main focuses is perseverance.
He uses personal experiences to illustrate this concept. He mentions how complicated his student
life was and how his first years studying in the country were. He makes an allusion when he
mentions the phrase his mother would say to him when they got up early to study "This is no
picnic for me either, buster.” She was referring to her feeling of being there with him too, that it
was no fun at all like a picnic is. Subsequently, he presents the overcoming experiences of his
wife Michelle Obama, of students like Jasmine Perez, Antoni Schultz, Shantell Steve, and of
celebrities like JK Rowling and Michael Jordan. All to prove that the power of hard work and
effort pays off.
Obama's point of view is that the education of citizens is extremely important for the
future of the country. He appeals to the patriotic emotions of the public by admitting that "The
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Vergara 3
future of America depends on you” and “If you quit on your school, you’re not just quitting on
yourself, you’re quitting on your country” referring the American students. Additionally, he uses
rhetorical questions in his speech such as “What’s your contribution going to be?” “What
problems are you going to solve?” “What discoveries will you make? This appeal to pathos and
the use of these types of questions stirs up the natural duty as a citizen and the desire of being
someone special in the future. He affirms the great ability of each student by acknowledging that
"every student of the public is as good as something". He joins this concept of responsibility to
unify the nation and humbly admits that "You make your own future". This outpouring of
emotion on the part of the president conveys a tone of motivation that exalts the nation since
their effort to improve is acknowledged as the best way to achieve the nation's goals.
Overall, through the effective use of rhetorical tools and conscious arrangement of this
essay, Barack Obama conveys to the student audience the importance of education in life.
Firstly, he represents the ethos by using his position as the president of the United States of
America to persuade his audience and build his credibility. In addition, he also uses his personal
experiences and those of others in the education system to entertain his audience and explain the
topic to them. He indicates a resource of pathos by capturing the audience's attention by
connecting with them emotionally. Finally, he also uses logos to engage the audience and
provoke a reaction by presenting facts and offering solutions. As a result, the students and the
audience present are aware that Obama is more than qualified when it comes to education issues.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Vergara 1 Elenis Vergara Martinez Professor Maria Icaza ENGL 102 25 September 2021 A Rhetorical Analysis on President Obama’s Message for America’s Students What is the difference between successful and unsuccessful people? That the former, even when they fail, seek success and the latter simply give up. This is what the former president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, delivered in his speech on September 8, 2009, to American students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. His purpose is to emphasizes not only the value of education for life but the importance of perseverance during difficult times. He adopts a motivating and didactic tone to interact with his student audience. The speaker began to build his trust with reliable facts and sources, evidencing compelling personal and other people's stories to reinforce his appeal to logic and effectively use emotional devices to interact with the audience and be able to signal the message of responsibility with education. The speech began with a presentation by a senior student describing his experience as a student and the honor of being the one to introduce the president of the country “the man who has proven that "yes, we can.". This is an appeal to human ethics - an appeal to ethos. The senior helps build Obama's credibility by recognizing his position, status, and professionalism toward the country and the people. Furthermore, an appeal to ethos within discourse convinces listeners of the great importance of education and the responsibility that comes with it. Obama wants the audience to realize that every student has the ability to excel. To do this, he elaborates key Vergara 2 persuasive statements in his speech. He shows it when he mentions "I've given a lot of speeches on education and I've talked a lot about responsibility." He persuades the audience of his skill and experience on the subject. Therefore, he uses the credibility of the president of a country and gains that trust because people think that a person who deals with these issues on a daily basis says so, which is a perfect example of the use of this rhetorical appeal. Throughout his speech, Obama uses logic and reasoning to appeal to the audience and create legitimacy. His argument is based on the guarantee of the necessity of education to succeed in life. As it is known, for certain professions; such as a doctor, teacher, senator, a good educational background is needed. Therefore, he clarified the fact that studies are indispensable if you want to pursue those careers. To present further evidence of this concept, he mentions the history of students from years ago who went to make a revolution, fought for civil rights, and those who put the man on the moon. This gives objective reasons to the audience helping them to create an internal argument on the subject. In addition, one of his main focuses is perseverance. He uses personal experiences to illustrate this concept. He mentions how complicated his student life was and how his first years studying in the country were. He makes an allusion when he mentions the phrase his mother would say to him when they got up early to study "This is no picnic for me either, buster.” She was referring to her feeling of being there with him too, that it was no fun at all like a picnic is. Subsequently, he presents the overcoming experiences of his wife Michelle Obama, of students like Jasmine Perez, Antoni Schultz, Shantell Steve, and of celebrities like JK Rowling and Michael Jordan. All to prove that the power of hard work and effort pays off. Obama's point of view is that the education of citizens is extremely important for the future of the country. He appeals to the patriotic emotions of the public by admitting that "The Vergara 3 future of America depends on you” and “If you quit on your school, you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country” referring the American students. Additionally, he uses rhetorical questions in his speech such as “What’s your contribution going to be?” “What problems are you going to solve?” “What discoveries will you make? This appeal to pathos and the use of these types of questions stirs up the natural duty as a citizen and the desire of being someone special in the future. He affirms the great ability of each student by acknowledging that "every student of the public is as good as something". He joins this concept of responsibility to unify the nation and humbly admits that "You make your own future". This outpouring of emotion on the part of the president conveys a tone of motivation that exalts the nation since their effort to improve is acknowledged as the best way to achieve the nation's goals. Overall, through the effective use of rhetorical tools and conscious arrangement of this essay, Barack Obama conveys to the student audience the importance of education in life. Firstly, he represents the ethos by using his position as the president of the United States of America to persuade his audience and build his credibility. In addition, he also uses his personal experiences and those of others in the education system to entertain his audience and explain the topic to them. He indicates a resource of pathos by capturing the audience's attention by connecting with them emotionally. Finally, he also uses logos to engage the audience and provoke a reaction by presenting facts and offering solutions. As a result, the students and the audience present are aware that Obama is more than qualified when it comes to education issues. Name: Description: ...
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