michelle obama grad speech


One student from King College Prep High School out of Chicago, IL wasn’t able to be at her graduation due to a tragic shooting two years ago. Hadiya Pendleton’s classmates didn’t forget her and proved it by leaving an empty seat for her with flowers, as well as giving her parents a cap, gown and class rings. Michelle Obama spoke at Pendleton’s funeral in 2013 and ended up speaking at King College Prep because they won a video contest about student applications for financial aid. She stated, “Hadiya’s memory is truly a blessing and an inspiration to me and to my husband, and to people across this country and around the world, and we are so grateful for her family’s presence here tonight. Love you all. Love you so much.” Mrs. Obama shared some personal connection she has with the South Side of Chicago, where she was born and raised, and spoke on the strength of the community and how that is what gets them through fatal times.

“I’m here tonight because I want people across this country to know that story –- the real story of the South Side. The story of that quiet majority of good folks—families like mine and young people like all of you who face real challenges but make good choices every single day. I’m here tonight because I want you all to know, graduates, that with your roots in this community and your education from this school, you have everything—you hear me, everything—you need to succeed.”

Mrs. Obama encourages the graduating class of 2015 to do two things; not be afraid of asking questions or for help when it’s needed and letting any hardships they face inspire them instead of discourage them. Speaking of Pendelton, Mrs. Obama tells these students, “it’s okay to feel the sadness and the grief that comes with those losses. But instead of letting those feelings defeat you, let them motivate you. Let them serve as fuel for your journey.” She even expressed the hole in her own heart from her father passing away in her twenties, but she works hard every single day to make him proud. She stays hungry for success and encourages the graduates of King College Prep to do the same as they go on with their lives.

Image Via Flickr/WisPolitics.com