Starting late April, first lady Michelle Obama is set to deliver her final commencement addresses as America’s leading woman for this year’s 2016 graduates.
As part of her Reach Higher initiative, the first lady will deliver the commencement addresses at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi on April 23; Santa Fe Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 26; and City College of New York on June 3.
Obama’s firm belief in education is evident through her various initiatives, including Let Girls Learn and #62MillionGirls, whose name refers to the number of girls not in school.
She has delivered several commencement speeches during the president’s term at similar colleges and universities — including historically black institutions such as Spelman College. During her previous addresses, she encouraged students to become leaders and to use their abilities to empower others.
“As you climb those career ladders, just remember to reach down and pull others up behind you,” Obama said at Spelman’s commencement ceremony in 2011.
As a nominee for this year’s Webby awards — an annual showcase of the web’s funniest clips, memes, music videos and virtual reality — Obama is a top contender among stars such as Beyoncé, Caitlyn Jenner, Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon.
Obama’s first commencement ceremony kicks off April 23 at Jackson State, where she will deliver the keynote address to more than 1,000 students at the university’s 139th spring commencement ceremony. Jackson State is one of the largest institutions of higher learning in Mississippi and a historically Black university that was originally established to educate newly freed African-Americans to become ministers and teachers.
Also, as part of the White House Generation Indigenous Initiative, the first lady will deliver the high school commencement address to the Class of 2016 at Santa Fe Indian School, Thursday, May 26. The Gen-I works to improve the lives of Native youth by promoting a national dialogue and programs to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders, according to a release from the White House.
And on June 3, she will deliver the commencement address during the 170th commencement ceremony at The City College of New York on the South Campus Great Lawn on the CCNY campus in Harlem, for a class of more than 3,000 students. According to a White House release, the City College of New York was the first public higher education institution in New York City. It has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation with over 40 percent first-generation college students, almost 40 percent non-native English speakers, and half from low-income households.