Syracuse, NY (CNN ) - Vice President Joe Biden delivered the commencement address to the class of 2009 at Syracuse University Sunday, telling students to remain optimistic despite the challenges the country faces.
Biden compared today's challenges, such as the weak job market the 3,400 graduating students are facing, to those his generation dealt with - such as
the Vietnam War, race riots and political upheaval.
He noted that just three days after he graduated on the same field where he was speaking, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Biden is a 1968 graduate of Syracuse College of Law.
He called on the students to embrace the challenging times as an opportunity to make real change in the world.
"Throughout the span of history, only a handful of us ever get a chance to actually shape the course of history," he said.
Biden's remarks were well received by the crowd of nearly 20,000 people.
"He was really passionate talking about how this is the time to make a change, and we are the kids who are actually going to do it," said Adam Teitelbaum, a finance and entrepreneurship major.
The university presented Biden with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Biden also wished all of the mothers in the crowd a Happy Mother's Day and offered the graduates one of his favorite lines:
"If at first you don't succeed, do it like your mom told you."