Michelle Obama surprises high school students in DC on College Signing Day

Former First Lady Michelle Obama surprised high school students from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia to celebrate College Signing Day and their decision to pursue higher education.

“Look, on a day when so much is about looking ahead, I just want to take a little moment to look back with you all,” she said. “Because I know it has been a long, hard road for all of you to make it to this day… and [there] has been nothing normal about this journey, especially that your class has been through.”

Obama, speaking at Capital One Arena on Tuesday, applauded the students for their ability to stay in school throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and urged the students to sign up for FAFSA, the federal student aid form.

Despite missing out on typical high school experiences and conducting class via Zoom, the students “pushed through” and “buckled down” and now are ready to graduate, she said.

“Now, I know that even on a day like this… maybe some of you are feeling some trepidation, some nerves about what’s to come… especially if you are a first-generation college student like I was,” Obama said.

She emphasized how she had a voice inside her head saying she couldn’t do it and how easy it is to write yourself off before you begin, but that’s why she wanted to talk to students. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Obama’s Reach Higher program.

“My goal then was to make sure that every student realized the importance of getting their education beyond high school and to ensure that everyone had the resources, information, and the tools to make that happen,” she said. “But, more importantly, I wanted students to know that higher education wasn’t just for the privileged few, for the kids with connections and money who were expected to fill those seats on college campuses.”

Obama announced that Reach Higher was partnering with Common App, an undergraduate college admission application that allows students to apply to more than 1,000 schools.

“You’ve got a community of people around you, including me and Barack, who is sending his love to you all too,” she said. “We are rooting for your every step of the way.”

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