First lady tells students: ‘My story can be your story’
November 12th, 2013
03:46 PM ET
12 months ago

First lady tells students: ‘My story can be your story’

(CNN) - First lady Michelle Obama is stepping up her policy game.

Obama, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, visited a Washington high school on Tuesday to announce a new initiative to encourage students to go to college, calling improving access to higher education “one of [her] husband’s most important goals as president.”

President Barack Obama set a goal when he entered office that the United States would have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020, imploring Americans to “commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training.”

The United States currently is ranked 12th in the world, the first lady said, calling the statistic “unacceptable.”

Obama said that she and Duncan will travel across the country to speak with students and help connect them to resources that will help them achieve some degree of higher education.

“No matter what path you choose, no matter what dreams you have, you have got to do whatever it takes to continue your education after high school,” Obama told the students.

“Whether that’s going to community college, getting a technical certificate, or completing a training opportunity, or going off to a four-year college – once you’ve completed your education, you will have the foundation you need to build a successful life,” she said.

This initiative is aimed at realizing the President’s goal, Obama said. But it’s also personal.

As the child of a stay-at-home mom and Chicago municipal worker, Michelle Obama worked her way through an Ivy-league university, then law school. She told the students “my story can be your story.”

Like Obama, the parents of many students in the audience do not have college degrees. When asked how many would be the first generation in their families to graduate from college, more than half of the nearly 250 gathered raised their hands.

But Obama told them they “have the power” to chart their own course.

“I set my sights high. I decided I was going to go to Princeton,” Obama said.

But, she added, “It was clear to me that nobody was going to take my hand and led me to where I needed to go. Instead it was going to be up to me to try to meet my goal.”

“Every day, students … like all of you are proving that it is not your circumstance that defines your future. It’s your attitude. It’s your commitment,” she said.


Filed under: Arne Duncan • Education • Michelle Obama
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    Oh....., T-Publicans won't like this message (nothing new), because once people are educated, there's no chance they'll ever get a big enough base to vote them back into office so once again, education will suddenly become an "uppity" subject.

    November 12, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    I'm all for higher education, just not the enormous debt that comes along with it.

    November 12, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. truth hurts but reality bites

    Woman In California
    Oh....., T-Publicans won't like this message (nothing new), because once people are educated, there's no chance they'll ever get a big enough base to vote them back into office so once again, education will suddenly become an "uppity" subject.
    ---

    Well, one thing is for sure. Our failing liberal and union controlled school systems are turning out flunkies at an alarming rate. If you truly want to educate the children, this strangehold needs to be broken. It has been proven over and over that once that stranglehold is broken, kids can and do get a good education. But the Democrats continue to block real refrom in order to protect their union bosses.

    November 12, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. tom l

    Sonny said
    "P.S. Tom- where were you when W. started 2 wars & paid for them on a credit card?"

    I was against them as I am against all of the wars that President Obama has gotten us into. See, I can be consistent, unlike you and all of your ilk.

    It's nice to have intellectual honesty and remain consistent rather than wait for my guy to come in to office so I can be hypocritical of everything the other guy did only to support my guy who is doing the same thing. I mean, there is nothing funnier than your support of Obama and all of his foreign follies. It's ok for him to ramp up Afghanistan. No problem! Let's get involved in Egypt and help to overthrow their dictator. Sure! While we're at it, let's make sure to get rid of Ghaddafy too! This is so much fun. Plus, let's step up our drone campaign and kill thousands of innocent people! Cool. It's Obama so we're for it now!

    November 12, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    Obama, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, visited a Washington high school on Tuesday to announce a new initiative to encourage students to go to college, ........
    --------------------
    Does anyone out there remember Rick Santorum chastising the idea of higher education, by suggesting that it was liberal plot to control your mind? That's how the far right extreme thinks, folks. They're projecting their own actions and motives onto others, beleiving that everyone else has ideological purity tests and indoctrination policies.

    November 12, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    "Well, one thing is for sure. Our failing liberal and union controlled school systems are turning out flunkies at an alarming rate. If you truly want to educate the children, this strangehold needs to be broken...."
    ---------------–
    Home schoolin' produces people like you. Right?

    November 12, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. just saying

    yeah!!! free college education for everybody!! yeah!! we'll just 'reform' the entire college and university system to make sure everybody gets in, doesn't matter if they can tell you the answer to 2 +2.... here's the way it will work. everybody currently going to school will get their enrollment cancelled. then they can re-enroll at four times the previous cost to pay for everybody else! meanwhile, everybody must by college insurance to help subsidize all these people as well. it doesn't matter if you already have a degree or are 85 years old.

    come on people get on board!! it is working so well for obamacare that it will surely work here too! we'll call it obamagree.

    November 12, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "I was against them as I am against all of the wars that President Obama has gotten us into. See, I can be consistent, unlike you and all of your ilk. "

    What wars did Obama get us into? You're engaging in hyperbole to generate false equivalence and it's showing.

    November 12, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "we'll just 'reform' the entire college and university system to make sure everybody gets in, doesn't matter if they can tell you the answer to 2 +2"

    Certainly would be a boon to rural red state Teatrolls. Maybe, eventually, sometime in the distant future, they'll even be able to send someone to Congress who can come up with a proposed "budget" that's longer than 3 pages with lots of pictures.

    November 12, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ tom l.
    What wars has President Obama gotten us into tom l?
    What is your problem?
    You posted the same comment rephrased three different ways in the Rand Paul story. You were ignored. Nobody bit.
    So I guess you've decided to come to this story and post blatant lies to get the daily dosage of useless internet attention you so crave.
    You're beyond pathetic.

    November 12, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. Woman In California

    @ truth hurts

    While I would never join a union, I do support the right of people to join should they want to. Your party on the other hand, believes in abolishment instead of compromise unless of course, we're talking about guns. As a result, you'll continue to die each election cycle until you finally get it.

    November 12, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    Pathetic is university education is more like a business–no wonder even Harvard, Yale, Duke, Princeton grads are Unemployed.

    November 12, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What wars did Obama get us into? You're engaging in hyperbole to generate false equivalence and it's showing.
    -------------------------------------------------
    No Sniffit. He's engaging in hyperbole to bait us into acknowleding him.
    Good press or bad press he just wants the press.
    Pitiful really.

    November 12, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Borderless

    Yes, Michelle, keep spreading the word that anyone can grow up into a bitter, racist snob and end up being married to the most terrible, corrupt president this nation has ever known.

    November 12, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. tom l

    Ohhhh, the great "press" of the CNN ticker. I have longed to get that attention so much.

    So, let's see, if you're naive enough to think that we weren't invovled in the overthrow of Khaddafy or Mubarek then I guess you believe in unicorns too. Also, he stepped up our drone program and has killed thousands of innocent people in the name of "war" and he stepped up our campaign in Afghanistan. He was also ready to go in Syria if he hadn't been out maneuvered by Putin so he was lucky that he didn't have to go there.

    But, it's ok, live in your bubble where you think that our president cares about us and is such an honest man.

    I wish I believe in fairy tales too, but I believe in reality.

    And in the Rand Paul article I talked about how you are calling Rand Paul a plagiarizer when our vice president, Mr. Joseph Biden, was guilty of plagiarism when he ran for president AND when he was in law school. So, it's ok, keep up your wonderfully hypocritical positions that you love to rationalize and justify.

    And, by the way, isn't it too early in the week for me, DMFO? ;)

    November 12, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    @tom I
    "Well, one thing is for sure. Our ....school systems are turning out flunkies at an alarming rate. "
    Ah, on topic and something I agree with you on.... finally.
    I agree with this statement (minus the partisan claptrap- do you forget 'No Child left behind?) because you are a perfect example of how our schools have turned out a complete flunkie. Although you have the basic writing skills and can actually form a sentence, you have zero critical thinking skills and a tendency to bore and lie and ask inane, rhetorical questions, while at the same time refusing to answer other's questions or defend your stance on a subject with any degree of clarity or sensical argument. Though a little more refined in your writing on here than some of your rightie buddies, you still have the same defenses – projection, conjecture, "I'm a victim", and the wonderful argument of a 5 y/o- "Well, Tony did it, so I can to" (justification).

    November 12, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. freedom

    Hey – your husband's destructive agenda is stifling the young generation of this country and strapping them with unconscionable debt! What the hell are you talking about ???

    November 12, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    Similar to the Taliban, conservatives fear open education. But instead of throwing acid, they throw Creationism and Revisionist History. For stupid voters, ideas like birth-certificate and death panels are accepted without a thought. Fortunately, neither worked.

    November 12, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |