First lady Michelle Obama urges EKU graduates to serve their country

05/13/2013 12:33 PM

RICHMOND — First lady Michelle Obama’s advice to newly-minted graduates at Eastern Kentucky University on Saturday was simple: know who you are and be true to yourself.

Obama’s speech revolved around students asking themselves three questions:

  • Who are you going to be?
  • How will you serve others?
  • Who will you include in your life?

The first lady encouraged students to seek out people with different opinions and life experiences because she said that is what has always made America great.

“Don’t just spend time with people your own age, go to the local senior center and talk with folks who have a little life experience under their belts,” Obama said. “If you’re a Democrat spend some time talking to a Republican, and if you’re a Republican have a chat with a Democrat.”

In asking the question of how the graduates will serve others, Obama pointed to the example of the military students who return from the battle field and go straight to the classroom. She told the students to imagine what their classmates had gone through and use that as a example of how to serve.

But Obama said that one doesn’t not have to serve in the military to serve the country, it could be as simple as mentoring a child who needs help or picking up some extra canned foods at the grocery store.

“These things may seem so small but they really make a difference. When you’ve worked hard and done well as I said, the least you can do is reach back and give a hand to somebody else who could use the help,” Obama said (at 2:00).

To close her remarks, Obama reflected on the three questions that she had posed to the students and said that as someone who has hired young people throughout her career what it comes down to is who you are and those questions help mold their futures.

“Again and again I have seen that those are the qualities I want on my team because those are the qualities that move businesses and schools and our entire country forward,” Obama said (at 1:15 in video below).


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