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    Dillard Professor Kemberley Washington on Fox 8 News PDF Print E-mail
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 - Michelle Obama delivers commencement address at Dillard University, listen here PDF Print E-mail
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    Michelle Obama commencement speechFirst Lady Michelle Obama's commencement speech for the 2014 graduates of Dillard University.

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement address at Dillard University on Saturday, May 10, 2014. The event typically takes place outdoors underneath the canopy of oaks on Dillard's campus. But because of rainy weather the ceremony was held indoors at the UNO Lakefront Arena.

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    First lady tells Dillard grads to stay hungry PDF Print E-mail
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    — A hunger for education should continue beyond graduation and should be used to guide and inspire "the next generation of geniuses," first lady Michelle Obama said Saturday.

    In her commencement address at Dillard University, the first lady described the 226 graduates of the historically black college as a "sea of young geniuses" and told them they have opportunities and skills that their parents and grandparents never could have imagined.

    "Imagine the impact you will make," she said. "You have no excuses to stand on the sidelines. Education is still the key to real and lasting freedom. It's up to us to cultivate that hunger for education in those coming after us."

    Mrs. Obama noted how people "scrape and claw" their way to an education, acknowledging the parents who work three jobs to give their children a shot at a better life.

    "This is the realization of the dreams of so many who came before you," she said. "You should be so proud and so happy and so excited, but you shouldn't be satisfied. Ask yourselves, 'What about all those geniuses who'll never get this chance?' ... When people fall behind in school, they fall behind in life."

    She pointed the more than 200 Nigerian girls who were recently kidnapped "for wanting an education and wanting to go to school," and 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who survived a gunshot to the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for advocating education for girls.

    The first lady ticked off statistics about the high rate of unemployment and poverty in the black community and the number of people from that community in prison or who are victims of violent crimes.

    "You may be thinking those numbers are terrible, but I'm not a part of that problem ... but folks like you and me, we can't afford to think like that ever, because we're the lucky ones.

    "We got here today because of so many people who toiled and sweat and bled and died for us ... people who never dreamed of getting a college education for themselves but who worked and saved and sacrificed so that we could be here today. We owe them. We owe them. And the only way to pay back that debt is by making those same kinds of sacrifices and investments for the next generation."

    She encouraged the graduates to start small, such as through volunteering as a tutor or by rallying their communities to start a mentor program, but she didn't reject the possibility of larger contributions, such as serving on a school board, in Congress or as president.

    "Let's turn that pipeline to prison into a highway to college," she said.

    "I want you all to keep raising your bars," she said in closing. "Let the next generation know that there is no greater investment than a good education.

    Obama also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university as did U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who joined Obama for a meeting later Saturday with spouses of veterans at an event at the National World War II Museum.

    The top four Dillard graduates all coincidentally come from Nigeria. The 20-year-old valedictorian, Merrilyn Akpapuna, who comes from the southeastern corner of Nigeria, plans postgraduate study at Western Michigan University in the fall.

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    MSNBC's Coverage on YouTube - Commencement 2014 PDF Print E-mail
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    Michelle Obama's message for graduates
    First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Dillard University's commencement in
    New Orleans, urging graduates to press on in the face of adversity.

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    Carmen Group, Inc.

    Congratulations to client Dillard University's class of 2014. First Lady Michelle Obama inspired and challenged 226 graduates in Saturday's ceremony:

    "This is your obligation. I want you to keep reaching higher. I want you all to keep raising your bars, letting the next generation know that there is no greater investment than a good education."

    Michelle Obama in New Orleans: College graduates must help others reach that goal

    by Danielle Dreilinger, | The Times-Picayune 
    on May 10, 2014

    First Lady Michelle Obama told New Orleans' Dillard University graduates Saturday they were like her: success stories who, in graduating from college, beat the long odds facing many young African-Americans. But she also challenged them to help the next generation of young people reach the same goal.

    "Today I stand before a sea of young geniuses. Oh, yeah," Obama said, to cheers. "But what you shouldn't be is satisfied."

    She spoke at the Lakefront Arena in front of a crowd thrilled by the first lady's interest in a small university. Senior class president Nicole Tinson convinced Obama to speak by writing to her and saying it would highlight the ongoing significance of historically black institutions.
    During her New Orleans visit, Obama also met privately with a group of military spouses.
    In her commencement speech, Obama highlighted the history of black higher education in New Orleans. When Dillard broke ground for its library in the 1930s, Howard University's then-president invoked "many a black genius" who was "lying in unmarked graves" due to the inability to go to college, Obama said.

    She cited the ongoing racial gap in graduation rates and the dismal unemployment rates among black men. In 2011, 52 percent of black male New Orleanians were out of work. 
    "You might think, 'Those numbers are terrible. But I'm not part of the problem,'" she said. "And you might think that because you're not one of those statistics ... you can go on our way and never look back. But folks like you and me, we can't afford to think like that."
    She reminded the students how their parents and grandparents worked so that they might succeed. "The only way to pay back that debt is by making the same kind of sacrifices and investments for the next generation," Obama said.

    She recalled how her own mother, who never went to college, volunteered at Obama's school every day, making sure the teachers and administrators did their jobs. Though her mother's omnipresence embarrassed her as a child, "looking back, I have no doubt that my classmates and I got a better education because she was there looking over their shoulder," she said.
    Obama evoked the throngs of students who flooded two colleges that preceded Dillard after the Civil War, part of a spate of new Southern institutions for former slaves who were finally free to learn. She quoted from a speech the Rev. Emperor Williams made at the Uptown groundbreaking of New Orleans University, one of those colleges.

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