FORT KENT, Maine — The 236 University of Maine at Fort Kent students who received their degrees during commencement exercises Saturday were advised of the importance of the written and spoken word.

Poet, teacher and writer Lewis Turco of Dresden, who addressed the graduates and was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters, used President Obama as an example of a person who is able to think and to deliver his thoughts effectively in spoken and written form.

“What am I saying to you here today — that it’s possible for any one of you members of the Class of 2009 to become president of the United States?” Turco asked. “That may, in fact, be possible. More important, though, I am saying that an ability to write, to handle the language in persuasive and cogent ways, is desirable for us all if we wish to be all that we can become, do all that we wish to do in our lives and our careers.”

Turco urged the students to give a lot of thought to what it is they are thinking and advised them to spend time practicing getting their thoughts in order so they can persuade others they are someone to be reckoned with.

“I promise you, if you do those things, you won’t be sorry,” Turco said. “Just take a look at President Barack Obama and what he’s been able to do, and think of what he is still to do.”

Also speaking at the commencement exercises was Jacob A. Pelletier, senior class president, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Pelletier spoke of his inquisitiveness while growing up and of the people, including his father and his teachers, who never failed to answer his questions.

“This university has challenged me and has picked my brain more than I ever thought possible,” Pelletier said. “It has given me an opportunity to learn the way that I like to learn: by asking questions.”

In addition to Pelletier, university President Dr. Richard W. Cost conferred 210 other bachelor’s degrees, as well as 28 associate degrees, according to UMFK spokeswoman Susan Tardie.

Tardie said Donald Guimond, who has served as Fort Kent’s town manager since 1993, was honored with the university’s Distinguished Service Award.

The University of Maine at Augusta also held commencement exercises at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday. More than 570 students received degrees in the university campus’s 41st ceremony.