The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and 20 successful celebrities paid a visit to students in the Washington, D.C., area to promote mentoring and commemorate Women’s History Month on Wednesday, March 29, 2011.
Michelle Obama took about an hour out of her day to talk with 38 high-achieving students in the library of the Ballou High School in Washington, D.C.
She said she’s made mentoring a big part of her agenda as First Lady.
“Mentoring is also an important part of my agenda because it was an important part of my life. I wouldn’t be here today, and neither would my husband, if we didn’t have people in our lives who stepped off of their track to enter our lives and our worlds and help us figure out the path for getting where we needed to be,” she said.
“And our view is that we have an obligation to give that back; you know, the further you go, the further you have to reach back and make sure you’re pulling other people along the way.”
She also stressed the importance of hard work and persevering despite personal and financial obstacles–an experience she shares with the students at Ballou.
“In so many ways, I see myself in you all. And I want you to see yourselves in me, so that you’re not looking at me just as the First Lady of the United States,” she said.
“You know, Barack and I were not born with silver spoons in our mouths and connections and money and resources. A lot of why we’re where we are today is because we worked hard. We felt a deep passion for getting our education. We were motivated not by making our friends proud of us, but by making our family proud of us. And with a lot of preparation, when the opportunities presented themselves, we were ready. And you all can do the same.”
While the First Lady visited Ballou, groups of high-profile women traveled to five other schools in the area affectionately known as the “DMV” (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) to help inspire Washington, D.C., area students and lead them to the path of success.
Grammy-award winning singer, Ledisi, Olympic gold medalist and gymnanist, Dominique Dawes, legendary dancer and former artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Judith Jamison and award-winning actresses Alfred Woodard and Tracee Ellis Ross were among the First Lady’s distinguished mentors for a day.
But the mentoring festivities didn’t end at the schoolyard gate.
The First Lady hosted a dinner and program in the East Room at the White House for the celebrity mentors and 120 students from Washington, D.C., area schools.
This is not the first time our First Lady has stepped out of the White House and into her “new neighborhood”, with a few famous friends, in the spirit of mentoring.
She’s hosted similar mentoring events locally and across the country in Detroit and Denver in 2009 and 2010.