Michelle Obama on Meeting with College Freshmen: 'I Am so Proud of Everyone I Met Today'

Michelle Obama spoke before college freshmen students during her recent “Beat the Odds” Summit and gave them a few words of encouragement: “You are faster, quicker, smarter, sharper.”

During Wednesday’s “Beat the Odds Summit” at Howard University, the former first lady spoke before 50  first-generation freshmen students heading off to college to share pieces of advice and motivating words. 

She began by telling students, who are first in their families to attend education higher than high school, not to be intimidated by their classmates or teachers and never to give up. She said:

“You always think that somebody else knows more than you do. I’ve been at probably every powerful table there is to be at. I have been on boards with some of the top CEOs. I’ve had dinner with the frickin’ Queen! I’ve been to the summit of world leaders. They’re not smarter than you. I’ve met these people.”


Obama focused widely on the rising issue of mental health among students and its importance. Be it anxiety or depression, among many others, that are triggered by stress-inducing factors around college campuses. 

She urged the students to pay attention to their mental health and to be aware of its symptoms. Some people may not know when a condition is already triggering their mental health, but something as simple as “being homesick” is already a factor to consider.

Obama’s daughter, Sasha, is off to college as well after graduating from a private school on June 9, 2019.

The former first lady also advised students to “live a balanced life” to promote good mental health, including watching the food that enters the body and having some form of physical activity.


A word of caution Obama gave was that feeling out of place is something felt by many -- and it’s okay, so long as you never quit. Despite putting up a front that seems to be okay, feeling as though coming to college “was a mistake” can still resonate.

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As you’ve seen, I’ve been highlighting amazing young people during #BlackHistoryMonth and #WomensHistoryMonth. And now that we’re in April, I realized I have so many more stories to share—so why not keep it going? Let me introduce you to 18-year-old Hannah Bajakian. I first met Hannah at the 2015 White House Mother’s Day Tea when she was an 8th grader from Ft. Drum, New York. She’d written to me about her dad, a lieutenant colonel in the Army, and all the service and sacrifice that comes with being a kid from a military family — moving to new schools, leaving friends, and witnessing her family's daily strength and perseverance while her father battled cancer and served through multiple deployments. But as I’ve seen so many times, kids growing up in military families develop the most incredible skills of resilience, integrity, and commitment to something larger than themselves. Now a high school senior, Hannah is valedictorian of her class. She played a lead role in her school’s production of Mamma Mia. And a few weeks ago, she was accepted to West Point, carrying on the family tradition of service to our country. I’m so proud of the woman Hannah is becoming and I can’t wait to see everything she accomplishes in the years ahead. #IAmBecoming #FlashbackFriday #ReachHigher

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“Walk on those campuses and fake some confidence, because you’re going to be faking it for a while,” she said. “We’re all faking it. It’s going to be okay as long as you don’t quit.”


Obama’s daughter, Sasha, is off to college as well after graduating from a private school on June 9, 2019. The 18-year-old is expected to attend the University of Michigan soon. Although her graduation was a private event, photos of her family emerged from those in attendance.

Similarly, former Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance during the ceremony for his granddaughter Roberta “Maisy” Mabel Biden, who also graduated from the same school. The proud grandfather took to social media to share a photo with the graduate.

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