Michelle Obama to students: 'fight the odds, never give up' - The South End: Home

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Michelle Obama to students: 'fight the odds, never give up'

Education and mentoring keys for area youth's success

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Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 11:02 am, Fri Apr 5, 2013.

First lady Michelle Obama visited Wayne State to promote leadership and growth in education. She addressed more than 5,000 people seeking a glimpse Wednesday morning.

“I hope you realize how much potential you have and how capable you are of living up to that potential,” she said to the gathering of students and mentors.

Obama focused her attention on student educational growth but also recognized the challenge present during difficult times.

“This city in particular has known its share of hard times,” she said, “you have experienced more grieving than any one city should have to bear.”

But she shifted to a more positive outlook and offered hope to future leaders.

“I’m looking at our future right now; it’s all of you – and it’s a beautiful sight,” she said.

Her encouraging words embraced responsibility and energized students to discover possibilities awaiting them.

Obama continued to relate the importance of community involvement and assistance to the students. She encouraged them to take responsibility not only for themselves but for others and for their community.

She suggested communities that are kept clean and safe will further contribute to educational growth.

Obama also invited students to try new things like traveling abroad and participating in student exchange programs.

She told the students that these endeavors will show them the similarities shared by students from around the world.

Mostly though, Obama’s agenda was education. She acknowledged the difficulties of finishing school when the odds are against the student. She also recognized the challenge of uncertainty and the unfamiliar nature of success.

“I imagine that right now there are some of you here at Wayne State who are the first in your families to make it to college,” she said as she continued the need for family support.

As she concluded her address, Obama mentioned that there are two kinds of people in life: Those who give up and those who do not.

“It’s the folks who don’t who make all the difference,” she said.

Prior to exiting the stage, the first lady offered her continued support –- along with the president’s –- for hope and educational leadership. She gazed out to the future leaders and urged them to “study hard, dream big, hope deeply and never give up.”

Obama was preceded by a special gathering of local politicians, area business leaders and famous celebrities including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who led the forum, and famed film producer Spike Lee.

Johnson, who encountered many challenges as a youth, gave hope to students.

“Just because I grew up poor doesn’t mean I had poor dreams,” he said.

Upon final comments, businesswoman Debbie Dingell, who is also a WSU Board of Governors member, pushed for student success.

“You can’t quit, can’t get lazy and can’t blame anyone else,” she said as she encouraged students to fight the odds placed against them.

Wednesday’s forum sought to re-engage a metropolitan area of students and leaders who have lost direction over the years. The fundamental basics of education and leadership potential appeared to be key in instructing a new generation of leaders.

“The simplest and surest way for you to live up to that potential is to do just one thing,” Obama said, “and that‘s to keep focusing on your education.”

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