First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a discussion on higher education in the East Room of the White House. The First Lady hosted the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit to recognize youths who have overcome substantial obstacles to persist through high school and make it to college, as part of the “Reach Higher” initiative
Michelle Obama is nothing if not gracious. Since moving to the White House in 2009 following her husband Barack Obama’s presidential election win in 2008, the Chicago native has used her mantle as the First Lady to fight for military families, children’s health and young people’s pursuit of education. Her charm, intellect and warm personality have created a collaborative environment where politics are left at the door and people connect to get things done.
Do you find yourself being more ambitious about your designs to help young people now more than any other point in your life, and why?
I’ve always said that the role of First Lady comes with this big bright light that follows you wherever you go, and you have the privilege—and the responsibility—to shine that light on important issues and tell the stories that too often go untold. So I do find myself being especially ambitious right now, especially because so many of the issues I work on are deeply personal to me.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without education." —The First Lady to students who are beating the odds to go to college #ReachHigher
A perfect example is my Reach Higher initiative, an effort to inspire young people to continue their education past high school. My parents didn’t have college degrees, and while they loved and supported me, they really couldn’t help me with things like standardized tests and financial aid forms. So I often had to figure stuff out on my own, and I didn’t always get it right (I actually applied to one college simply because I liked the pictures in the brochure). And today, I have a chance to reach back and help young people struggling with these exact same challenges, and I intend to use my time as First Lady and beyond to do everything I can to empower them so they can fulfill their dreams.