Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States today. It's history in the making. However, he assumes incredibly complex challenges created in the past and these are not only his problems, they become our problems. His challenges are our challenges. Still, he continues to deliver a message of hope about a brighter future. This duality -- the problems of the past versus the hope of the future -- has marked Obama's life. It began with his birth to a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya. He has always acknowledged his early struggles with being biracial. And though his parents' union failed, he dreamed big. Every challenge he faced, he overcame. Does Obama's past success mean he can deliver a more prosperous future for us all? I hope he can. ( Photo gallery: Obama Takes Office) Obama must first contend with the challenge of perception. He arrives in office with an amazingly high approval rating, including an 84% approval of his transition to power, according to CNN. He has been compared favorably with great orators such as Rev. Martin Luther King and another president who inspired a generation: John F. Kennedy. These are great expectations. In fact as I write, I'm staring at a Starbucks' coffee cup, which demonstrates the extent to which Obama's ascension has pervaded pop culture. It repeats the famous quote from Kennedy's inaugural address: "And so, my fellow American's: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."