“I never cut class.
I loved getting As, I liked being smart. I liked being on time.
I thought being smart is cooler than anything in the world.”
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson (1964- )was born on January 17, 1964 on the South Side of Chicago to Fraser and Marian Robinson. Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department, and despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age, he hardly ever missed a day of work. Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother Craig all while managing a busy household filled with love, family, and life lessons.
A product of Chicago public schools, Michelle attended Whitney Young High School which was Chicago’s first magnet high school. The round trip commute from the Robinsons’ South Side home to the Near West Side school, took three hours. She was on the honor roll for four years, a member of the National Honor Society and served as student council treasurer. Michelle graduated in 1981 as the salutatorian of her class and went on to Princeton University.
While at Princeton, she got involved with the Third World Center (an academic and cultural group that supports minority students) by running their day care center and providing after school tutoring. Ms. Robinson majored in sociology and minored in African-American studies and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985. She earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. At Harvard she participated in demonstrations advocating the hiring of professors who were members of minorities and worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau while assisting low-income tenants with housing cases. She is the third First Lady with a postgraduate degree, after her two immediate predecessors, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush.
Michelle met Barack Obama when they were among the few African Americans at their law firm, Sidley Austin, and she was assigned to mentor him as a summer associate. Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. Their first date was to the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing. They married in October 1992, and have two daughters, Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha, born 2001).
In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Associate Dean of Student Services, she developed the university’s first community service program, and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.
After Mr. Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago’s South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C. Throughout her husband’s 2008 campaign for President of the United States, Michelle made a commitment to be away overnight only once a week and to campaign only two days a week and be home by the end of the second day for their two children.
As First Lady, Mrs. Obama in 2010 launched Let’s Move!, a campaign to bring together community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, mothers and fathers in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity. Let’s Move! has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. Mrs. Obama also re-developed the White House Garden where she plants healthy fruits and vegetables along with children from neighboring Washington DC schools.
In 2011, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden together launched Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned, and to raise awareness of military families’ unique needs. Joining Forces has been working hand in hand with American businesses who are committed to answering the President’s challenge to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans and military spouses by 2013.
As First Lady, Mrs. Obama looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart: supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, promoting the arts and arts education, and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country. She continues to be a lovely lady that all of us can admire.
“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always
stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says
distract you from your goals.
And so when I hear about negative and false attacks,
I really don’t invest any energy in them,
because I know who I am.”