Returning to Spelman with First Lady Michelle Obama

Update: Read remarks from First Lady Michelle Obama's Commencement address at Spelman College here.

Today, Mrs. Obama will address the 2011 graduating class of Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college in Atlanta for women who seek to change the world in meaningful and inspirational ways.  As a graduate of Spelman, and as a member of the Obama’s staff since 2004, this trip fills me with a particularly special sense of pride.

When I walked through the gates of Spelman College for the first time in 1999, I couldn’t have been more excited about the world of possibilities ahead.  Four years later, armed with a spectacular education and a Spelman diploma, I was ready to tackle the world. However, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be returning years later to witness such a magical moment in history; the First Lady of the United States giving the commencement address at my alma mater.  And not just any First Lady, but a woman who I am honored and grateful to work for, a woman I admire, and a woman who is a role model for young women like me everywhere.

Spelman College laid the foundation for who I am today.  From the professors, to campus life, to the everlasting friendships I made, Spelman taught me the true definition of sisterhood and service.  I learned so much from being surrounded by intelligent, goal-oriented, passionate women who have dedicated their lives to giving back to their communities, and it has put me on the path I’m on today – serving as Mrs. Obama’s traveling aide and accompanying her on trips across the country and around the world. 

Traveling with Mrs. Obama has given me the privilege and opportunity to see firsthand her dedication to giving back to our country. I see her living a life of service. I see her intelligence, her passion and her strength as she travels from city to city, from state to state, reaching out to girls and women from all walks of life.  I have witnessed the long hours, the sacrifices, and the commitment she has for all Americans and I am humbled that she has chosen to share a magical moment with my Spelman sisters. I have seen the difference she makes and she does it with such grace, intellect, and character.  Mrs. Obama has an inspirational message  to share with the graduating class of 2011, and I am confident they too will be inspired by her radiance, her passion for life, and her never ending quest  to improve the lives of not only black women, but all women.

As Mrs. Obama prepares to come to Spelman, I have a similar level of excitement and anticipation that I did on Election night and Inauguration day.  And that’s because a great woman is coming to share a moment with the Spelman sisterhood.

Spelman graduates, we are one of a kind and there are no limitations to what we can achieve.  I learned that during my time at Spelman and I live that every day working with Mrs. Obama.  I look forward to sharing that same feeling with the graduates this afternoon.

Kristen Jarvis is the Special Assistant for Scheduling and Traveling Aide to the First Lady. She is an alumni of Spelman College, Class of 2003.

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