Last November, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the sophomore class at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C. about the importance of higher education. In her remarks, Mrs. Obama talked about how education has created opportunity in her own life, working hard to attend and graduate from college.
Today, we are releasing a special video message from the First Lady in which she talks about being the first in her family to attend college. This video is part of the “I’m First” storytelling project, which lifts up the stories of first generation college students in order to inspire future generations.
As the First Lady says in her video, “no matter where you come from or how much money your family has, I want you to know that you can succeed in college, and get your degree, and then go on to build an incredible life for yourself.”
Transcript of the First Lady’s message:
Hi! My name is Michelle Obama and I’m first!
Neither of my parents graduated from college, so when I got to campus as a freshman, I’ll admit I was a little overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to choose my classes or find the right classrooms. I didn’t even know how to furnish my own dorm room. In fact, when I moved in, I realized that I hadn’t even packed the right size sheets for my bed. Mine were way too short. So that first night, I slept with my legs sticking out past the end of the sheets, rubbing up against one of those old plastic mattresses… and I ended up sleeping that way for my entire freshman year.
But here’s the thing – I may not have had the right sheets, but I learned pretty quickly that I had what it took to succeed in college.
Sure, there were moments when I had doubts. At first, I even worried that maybe I just wasn’t as smart as some of my classmates. But soon enough I realized that that was all in my head. I was just as smart as everyone else – and I had just as much to contribute – I just had to have the confidence to believe in myself and the determination to work hard and ask for help when I needed it.
So that’s my message to all of you – no matter where you come from or how much money your family has, I want you to know that you can succeed in college, and get your degree, and then go on to build an incredible life for yourself.
That’s been my life story, and my husband’s as well. And if you’re willing to put in the time and the effort, I want you to know that it can be your story too.
So I want to wish you the best of luck in the years ahead… I know you can do it.
To learn more about how the federal government can help you attend college, check out http://studentaid.gov/
Tina Tchen is Assistant to the President, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.