Former First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated student success at Reach Higher’s fifth annual College Signing Day event Wednesday.
“I want you all to know, personally, you are about to make the best investment that you can possibly make. And that’s true whether you are going to a trade school or to the military or to a community college or to a four-year university,” Obama said to loud cheers.
Nearly 10,000 college-bound students attended the celebrity-studded event on UCLA’s campus. It featured appearances by Conan O’Brien, Kelly Rowland, Lea Michele, Jidenna, Elizabeth Banks, Patton Oswalt, Eva Longoria, Pentatonix, Bebe Rexha, Jesse Williams, Usher, Yvonne Orji, Elaine Welteroth, La La Anthony, Don Cheadle, John Legend, and many others.
Legend told the crowd that no matter your desired career path, higher education is a great choice for your future.
“I don’t think I would be here today as an artist, as a performer, as a leader if I didn’t go to the University of Pennsylvania and I’m so grateful for that experience. I want to congratulate each of you on this new beginning. Go out there, reach higher, and make it a better place,” Legend said.
More than 3,000 College Signing Day events – honoring more than 600,000 students across the US — were planned nationwide this year. The annual celebration, coordinated by Reach Higher, is aimed at increasing college access for low-income, minority, and first-generation students.
Obama spoke to the crowd and encouraged them to face their challenges head on and build a community of support to help build them up.
“I want you all to know that the road doesn’t end today. Once you get to college you all have to apply those skills that you used to get you here – that same grit, that same resilience, that same commitment that makes you who you are. And when you run into those challenges — because you will — I don’t want you to be afraid of that challenge,” she said.
“…I also want you to know that when you get to college you have to build a community for yourself. That’s the only way you are going to make it…None of us do this alone. That’s why we put this day together because we want you all to understand how many people have your back.”
Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.