She began a program on Tuesday that seeks to increase the number
of low-income students who study for a college degree.
Michelle Obama, after nearly five years of evangelizing exercise
and good eating habits, began a new initiative on Tuesday that seeks
to increase the number of low-income students who pursue a college
degree. The goals of the program reflect the first lady's own life
and will immerse her more directly in her husband's policies.
"I'm here today because I want you to know that my story can be
your story," she told students at Bell Multicultural High School in
Washington on Tuesday, according to an advance text of her remarks.
"The details might be a little different, but so many of the
challenges and triumphs will be just the same."
The first lady said that whether students want to be doctors,
teachers, mechanics or software designers, "you have got to do
whatever it takes to continue your education after high school --
whether that's going to a community college, or getting a technical
certificate, or completing a training opportunity, or heading off to
a four-year college."
Aides in Mrs. Obama's office said she would visit other schools
around the country and use social media to appeal to students,
conveying the message that higher education is a door to a wider
world. Mrs. Obama, the daughter of a pump worker at the City of
Chicago Waterworks, graduated from Princeton University and Harvard
Many supporters have been eager to see Mrs. Obama use her resume -
- before coming to Washington, she was an associate at the Sidley
Austin law firm and a health care executive in Chicago -- and her
role as the first black first lady to expand her agenda. Her best-
known initiative promotes healthy eating.
Some of her most widely publicized appearances -- dancing at
middle schools, doing push-ups on daytime television and promoting
the arts in a video message at the Oscars -- have made her popular
and accessible. But she has also been derided by critics who hoped
she would use her historic position to move more deeply into policy.
Others argue that Mrs. Obama has had to move cautiously and avoid
taking on causes that might be seen as controversial or as
beneficial only to certain segments of the population.
"She just could not have done this four years ago," said
Catherine Allgor, a professor of history at the University of
California, Riverside, who has written books about first ladies. …