by Ruby Lyon
“If we want to truly lead the world again in terms of young people with a college degree, we should celebrate students going to college the same way we celebrate athletes and celebrities. Education should be that important for every single person in this country.” – First Lady, Michelle Obama
On April 26, 2016, students from Row New York’s graduating class joined over 4,000 high school seniors to celebrate College Signing Day with Michelle Obama in Harlem. The event was a part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, an effort to inspire young people to pursue their education past high school. In addition to the First Lady’s event in New York, more than 1,000 College Signing Day events took place in nearly every state. This was the third annual College Signing Day the First Lady has hosted to celebrate high school seniors choosing to pursue higher education at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.
First Lady Michelle Obama explains why College Signing Day is so important:
FLOTUS, as Michelle Obama was affectionately referred to via social media, wasn’t alone either. She showed up with a whole posse of celebrity friends including actors, comedians, musicians, and star athletes to show their support for the class of 2020. Guests included Melissa McCarthy, Robert De Niro, La La Anthony, Carmelo Anthony, and Common. After recovering from the initial shock of so many stars, the truly amazing takeaways were hearing their words of encouragement and support to aim higher, crash goals, and recognize the hard work that it took to get this far. As Mrs. Obama told the crowd, “I want you all to listen to this: These Grammy Award winners, these NBA All-Stars, these Hollywood celebrities all wanted to be a part of College Signing Day. So while you all might be in awe of us, let me tell you, we are in awe of you. We know how much work it took for you to get to this point.”
Row New York was in for a special treat when the First Lady came down to meet the crowd. Gustavo, a graduating senior (pictured at the top of the blog), is still blown away by his moment meeting the First Lady. For him, the overwhelming feeling of support from Mrs. Obama, the inspiring message she stands for, and love she shared with the crowd made it a moment he will never forget. Other Row New Yorker’s were given hugs from FLOTUS. “Work hard, OK? You can get it done,” she told them.
The event ended with a full out dance party and debut of “Go to College,” a song highlighting the importance of post-secondary education. Michelle Obama, always full of fun surprises, even helps rap part of the song:
Congratulations class of 2020! We are so proud of all of your accomplishments. From sticking with us through the cold days and hard workouts, to coming together as a family to celebrate our wins and successes, your commitment and drive are admirable. We know you will only continue to succeed where ever your two feet take you!