Michelle Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama’s wife is considered the first African-American First Lady of the United States. She is the forty-fourth First Lady and the third with a postgraduate degree. Michelle is a lawyer by training. First lady Michelle Obama became a female role model in America and worldwide as an educated, intelligent, and self-assured woman. She was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson and grew up in a middle-class family with a traditional upbringing. Michelle Obama’s father instilled in her the values of hard work and perseverance, despite being determined with several sclerosis at an early age and never letting the disease derail his ambitions. Her mother, a housewife, instilled in her a respect for family values. She was an intelligent student who excelled in school and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School. She was a lawyer when she met and married another lawyer, Barack Obama, and soon found herself juggling the roles of wife and mother as well as professional. She was a key figure in her husband’s presidential campaigns, and her responsibilities grew after she became First Lady. She has prioritized women’s empowerment, children’s health and education, the organic food movement, and national service in this capacity.
Michelle Obama’s Childhood
On January 17, 1964, Michelle Robinson was born to Marian and Fraser Robinson in Chicago, Illinois. Despite Fraser’s meager pay as a city pump operator, which resulted in cramped living conditions in their South Shore bungalow, the Robinsons were a close-knit family. Michelle and their older brother Craig pushed to excel in school. Both children skipped second grade, and Michelle was later accepted into a gifted-student program that allowed her to take French and advanced biology classes. She has prioritized women’s empowerment, children’s health and education, the organic food movement, and national service in this capacity.
Michelle made the long daily commute to Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. She served as student council treasurer and was a member of the National Honor Society before graduating as class salutatorian in 1981. Michelle Obama then followed her brother to Princeton University, where Michelle established a reading program for children manual laborers. In her senior thesis, she investigated the connections between the school’s black alumni and their communities as sociology majors with a minor in African-American studies, graduating cum laude in 1985.
Career and Life Before Becoming the First Lady
Michelle Obama joined the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin as a junior associate specializing in marketing and intellectual property after receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988. She has been assigned to mentor a summer intern named Barack Obama, and she deflected his initial romantic advances before they started dating. Within two years, they were engaged, and on October 3, 1992, they married at Trinity United Church of Christ.
Michelle Obama left corporate law in 1991 to pursue a career in public service, allowing her to keep following a personal interest while also creating networking opportunities for her husband’s future political career. She started her career as just an assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and quickly rose through the ranks to become the city’s assistant commissioner of planning and development. She was named executive director of the Chicago branch of Public Allies, a leadership development program for young adults, in 1993. She created the school’s first community-service program as associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago,
When Barack Obama decided to run for state senator in Illinois in 1996, Michelle served as a disciplined campaign aide, canvassing signatures and throwing fundraising parties. Michelle Obama often had to juggle the demands of work and child-rearing alone after the births of daughters Malia (1998) and Sasha (2001), with her husband tending to business in the state capital of Springfield.
Despite her difficulties, Michelle Obama was named executive director of community relations and external affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2002. After three years, Michelle was promoted to vice president and served on the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Still, she eventually reduced her work hours and commitments to support Obama’s entry into the U.S. presidential race.
Tenure as First Lady
Michelle was initially chastised for her honesty, but she quickly proved an asset on the campaign trail with her ability to deliver relatable stories about her family. In addition to becoming the first African American first lady after Barack Obama’s election victory in 2008, she was the third with a postgraduate degree.
Michelle attempted to link her agendas to her husband’s larger legislative goals, most notably focusing on the childhood obesity epidemic while the Affordable Care Act was being drafted. In 2009, she collaborated with local elementary school students to create a 1,100-square-foot vegetable garden on the White House’s South Lawn. She launched the Let’s Move! Initiative the following year to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
Michelle co-founded the Joining Forces program in 2011 to expand educational and employment opportunities for veterans and raise awareness about the challenges that military families face. After assisting Obama in winning a second term, she founded the Reach Higher initiative to encourage young people to pursue higher education and career development opportunities.
In keeping with the family theme of her campaign speeches, the first lady emphasized the importance of being a diligent parent and invited her mother to live with her in the White House. Michelle was also recognized for her ability to connect with younger generations by staying current with pop culture. She embraced social media, encouraging fans to follow her progress on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. She demonstrated her willingness to bring her messages to audiences by appearing in comedic sketches online and television.