On Friday, May 5, Michelle Obama headed to New York City, where she took on the role of host for MTV’s 2017 College Signing Day at the Public Theater.
Sporting an oversized cardigan over a Princeton T-shirt, light gray jeans and sneakers, the former FLOTUS, who graduated from Princeton as well as Harvard Law School, congratulated a group of high school seniors about to become the first in their families to attend college.
“Getting in was just the beginning because there will be struggles. I certainly had my share of struggles,” said Obama. “You’re not supposed to go through this on your own. No one gets through college, or life, on their own.”
As for when things get tough (because they will) Obama explained the importance of speaking up — confiding in others. “Don’t sit in your room alone. Do not stew or stir,” she told the students. “Go out and build your base of support… You cannot do this alone. I didn’t. No one on this stage did, and we are not expecting that from you.”
She continued, “Once you find that community — and you have to find your community in college, and it may take some time — you’re gonna get this thing. You’re gonna soar, and you’re gonna continue to make us proud.”
The event, which also included appearance from stars Ashley Graham and Bella Hadid, Nick Cannon, Jaimie Alexander, Olivia Palmero, and The Roots musicians Black Thought and Questlove, encourages students to continue higher education following high school by attending a four-year university, community college, vocational or technical school, or joining the military.
“One of the greatest honors of my life was serving as your first lady, and one of my greatest joys is hearing the stories of young people like you pursuing your dreams through education,” Obama said in a video announcement prior to the event. “I love hearing about how you’ve challenged yourself, how you’ve overcome obstacles. You are working to create a life that you can be proud of and I want you to know that I’m rooting for you every step of the way. Trust me, you’ve got this.”