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    Dillard In The News First Lady Michelle Obama Urges Dillard Grads to 'Stay Hungry for Education' PDF Print E-mail
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    "Today, I stand before a sea of young geniuses.  Oh, yeah," said First Lady Michelle Obama in her commencement speech to the graduates of Dillard University in New Orleans on May 10. "And you should be so proud, and so happy, and so excited about your futures. But what you shouldn’t be is satisfied."

    Throughout her remarks, which included several references to the HBCU's history and its legacy, the enormous sacrifices of those who fought for educational opportunities for Blacks in Louisiana and the obstacles that even some of the graduates overcame to get to their big day, the first lady stressed how important education is. She also urged them to not lose their hunger for higher education and to help others reach that goal, despite many ongoing challenges in African-American and other communities, such as "structural inequality, schools that lag behind, workplace and housing discrimination."

    "That’s still no excuse to stand on the sidelines. Because we know that today, education is still the key to real and lasting freedom — it is still true today," Obama said.  "So it is now up to us to cultivate that hunger for education in our own lives and in those around us."

    The first lady also noted the sacrifice and enormous risks young people around the world have been willing to take to get an education, like the 16-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was nearly assassinated for her advocacy, and the Nigerian girls who've been abducted by an extremist group that vehemently opposes education.

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    First lady Michelle Obama gives commencement speech at Dillard University PDF Print E-mail
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    WDSU 6 News

    NEW ORLEANS —First lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement speech at Dillard University’s graduation ceremony Saturday.

    “I know that some of you may come from tough neighborhoods, some of you may have lost your homes during Katrina,” Obama said in her address.

    Two-hundred-twenty-six people graduated from Dillard University in spring 2014.

    Obama addressed a cheering crowd of thousands in the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena.

    Obama acknowledged Dillard’s rich history in her address, which stretches back to 1826. The school has withstood segregation, depression, threats of violence and floods. Obama told graduates they are following in the footsteps of those who have gone before them.

    “We’re the lucky ones and we can never forget that we didn’t get where we are today all on our own,” Obama said. “We got here today because of so many people who toiled and sweat and bled and died for us.”

    With Dillard’s valedictorian and three salutatorians originally from Nigeria, Obama called attention to the mounting crisis of almost 280 Nigerian girls missing for weeks.

    “(The girls were) kidnapped from their own school for wanting an education,” she said. “Young people who are knowingly risking their lives every day just to go to school.”

    Obama graduated from Chicago Public Schools, Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She urged graduates to achieve more.

    “You should be so proud and so happy and so excited about your futures, but what you shouldn’t be is satisfied,” she said.

    Obama cited statistics of low high school and college graduation rates among many African Americans, along with high unemployment, poverty and incarceration rates.

    “When our young people fall behind like that in school, they fall behind in life,” she said.

    Obama ended her address by challenging graduates to write their own chapter into the Dillard University legacy.

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

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    Michelle Obama Commencement Speech Urges Graduates To Stay Hungry PDF Print E-mail
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    First lady Michelle Obama delivers the commencement address to graduates of Dillard University in New Orleans, Saturday, May 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama is urging graduates of Dillard University to continue to fuel their hunger for education and use it to guide and inspire the "next generation of geniuses."

    On Saturday the first lady told the 226 graduates of the historically black college that they have opportunities and skills that their parents and grandparents never could have imagined. She urged them to use those skills to help those coming after them.

    Obama also has received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university.

    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 Obama didn't reject the possibility of larger contributions, such as serving on a school board, in Congress or as president.

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    Nobody's complaining about Michelle Obama's planned visit to Dillard: Jarvis DeBerry PDF Print E-mail
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    By Jarvis DeBerry, | The Times-Picayune 
    Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
    on April 24, 2014 at 2:54 PM, updated April 24, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Nicole Tinson was speaking last April at a Dillard University scholarship luncheon in Los Angles, her hometown. She acknowledges that she probably shouldn't have been handed the microphone. Because when got it, she said made a bold promise. She said that as president of Dillard University's class of 2014 she was going to make sure that President Barack Obama spoke at commencement. It was only after she announced her plan that she said to herself, "I'm going to (have to) figure this out."

    Tinson failed at her stated task, but it doesn't appear that anybody at Dillard cares. Because even though she didn't convince the president to come to campus for the May 10 commencement exercises, she did convince his wife, Michelle Obama.

    Marc Barnes, vice president for institutional advancement at Dillard, said that Hillary Clinton spoke at commencement in 2007, after her husband Bill Clinton had been president and she had been elected to the Senate, but next month's speech by Michelle Obama will be the first one Dillard has heard presented by a current occupant of the White House.

    When asked why she aimed so high in searching for a speaker to address her class, Tinson told a story that illustrates the continuing importance of historically black institutions such as Dillard. Her college counselor didn't think she should apply to college.

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    HBCU All-Star Helps Bring Michelle Obama to Dillard PDF Print E-mail
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    Nicole Tinson, political science major and senior class president of the graduating class of 2014


    Dillard University today announced U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama as its spring commencement speaker, but many at the New Orleans historically Black college are heralding the senior class president for the historic appearance.

    Nicole Tinson, a senior political science major and president of the graduating class of 2014, knew that it would take a special kind of commitment to make good on her promise of delivering a memorable commencement speaker on May 10. Tinson, named in February by the Department of Education as one of the nation’s 75 ‘HBCU All-Stars,’ wrote to the First Lady requesting that Dillard join the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Spelman College, North Carolina A&T State and Bowie State University among the FLOTUS’ HBCU graduation day stops.

    “I never allowed others doubt in getting a great commencement speaker to bother me,” said the Los Angeles native. “I told my story [and the Dillard story] in a letter to Mrs. Obama and kept my faith. As senior class president, I made a vow to our class that we would have someone amazing for commencement and we have the FLOTUS. I don’t think it gets any more amazing than that.”

    Dillard President Walter Kimbrough says that while the entire campus community is excited about Obama’s visit, Tinson deserves the credit.

    “We are so excited to host First Lady Michelle Obama as our commencement speaker. But I am more excited that our senior class president, Nicole Tinson, used her Dillard tenacity and grit to get Mrs. Obama here. Nicole did this on her own and I am so proud of her.”

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