Michelle Obama’s Final Speech: ‘Don’t Be Afraid. Be Focused. Be Determined.’

by Valerie Williams
Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Michelle Obama gives advice to young people in her final speech as First Lady

This morning, Michelle Obama gave her final speech as First Lady during an event honoring the 2017 School Counselor of the Year. Continuing in her tradition of working for the betterment of kids and teens, her words were the shot in the arm we all need to have hope for the future mere days before this incredible family leaves the White House.

According to CNN, the honor was initiated by Obama and began in 2015 as part of her “Reach Higher” program aimed at supporting and promoting higher education. Considering Obama’s commitment to youth causes, it’s only fitting that her final speech as First Lady would be at an event honoring people who help children.

Her remarks were exactly what we’ve come to expect from the First Lady during her eight-year tenure in the White House where her chief causes were education, health and fitness, and military families. She told the crowd as she struggled not to cry, “I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong.” Obama urged kids and teens to become educated and be fearless in using that education for good. “So don’t be afraid. You hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.”

Hearing Obama remind young people of their value is bittersweet knowing that the incoming administration likely won’t provide that kind of support in helping them achieve their goals. For the last eight years, many of us have felt more confident for the future of our children with the Obamas leading our nation. Her words come at a time where some are wondering what direction we’re heading in regard to so many issues, including education.

In just 14 days, the Obama family will leave the White House taking many of our hearts with them. As a First Family, they’ve been utterly unique in their ability to remain down-to-earth and relatable, and arguably, it was the First Lady leading that charge. She’s spent eight years showing our country what true grace and class look like while raising two incredible young women and supporting her husband. She was hugely admired and very popular for so many reasons and will be dearly missed.

While it’s heartbreaking that we will no longer have such a fierce advocate in the White House who believes in equal treatment for everyone, we can only hope she will continue her work, making life better for kids and families after leaving her official role at the White House.

Obama ended her speech in tears saying, “being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.”

She absolutely has.