With shows like Grownish and Dear White People chronicling higher education for people of color, it’s empowering to see Michelle Obama also share her college experience.
In decades old Throw Back Tuesday post, Michelle Obama shared a picture from her early days at Princeton University. For her it was a scary time. Made mostly so because she was a first generation college student. Adding to that, the culture shock of being one of the few Black students at the historic institution. Fortunately, she was able to get by with a little help of her friends.
This is me at Princeton in the early 1980s. I know that being a first-generation college student can be scary, because it was scary for me. I was black and from a working-class neighborhood in Chicago, while Princeton’s student body was generally white and well-to-do. I’d never stood out in a crowd or a classroom because of the color of my skin before. But I found close friends and a mentor who gave me the confidence to be myself. Going to college is hard work, but every day I meet people whose lives have been profoundly changed by education, just as mine was. My advice to students is to be brave and stay with it. Congratulations to the Class of 2018! #ReachHigher
Obama reflected on the first time being in a classroom where the difference in skin color was dramatically obvious. She explains that having a mentor and close friends are what turned the tide for her in her struggles at Princeton. She used this post to empower the youth of this nation by reminding them not only having a great education changed her life, it gave her the opportunity to change the lives of others.
The focus of Obama’s post-White House work has been to empower minority youth to pursue their education so they can be the great change needed in this world. Obama’s story is a testament to what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. Her humble beginnings transformed by her drive and tenacity. If the former First Lady can aspire and realize greatness coming from a working-class household, then it is possible for us all to do so.
Remember Michelle Obama is from the same south-side of Chicago that stays in the headlines – not always under the best circumstances. She is a testament to what can be achieved when Blacks break into the Ivy League class and bring back their experiences and opportunity to better their home communities.