U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with fresh graduates at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee, on Monday, asking them to brace for a new world and tough competition from the youths in world's two most emerging economies - India and China.

You’re competing against young people in Beijing and Mumbai. Those kids are hungry, they’re working hard and you’ll need to be prepared for it, Obama said during his commencement address to the high school, which has been chosen as a finalist for the Commencement Challenge on the basis of its inspiring turn-around story, and voted the winner by the public.

Supporting these kinds of turnarounds has been a focus of the President’s education policies, including Race to the Top contest where states compete to show real reform plans, and School Improvement Grants that demand uprooting entrenched problems, White House said in a statement.

Obama's administration has ensured funding for the states, communities and schools who have shown their commitment to change, it added.

Speaking at the school, where graduation rates went from 55 percent in 2007 to 81.6 percent in 2010, the President stressed the importance of education in a country's growth as he spoke to the graduates on a personal level about the lessons he learned.

My father left my family when I was two years old. And I was raised by a single mom, and sometimes she struggled to provide for me and my sister. But my mother, my grandparents, they pushed me to excel. I’m so blessed that they kept pushing...education made all the difference in my life, President Obama said.