Blog Post

Celebrating National Signing Day with FLOTUS

— First Lady Michelle Obama with our students in Harlem

More than 150 iMentor NYC students, staff and volunteers joined nearly 5,000 high school students in the Harlem Armory yesterday for National College Signing Day with the First Lady.

The celebrity-packed rally was one of 1,000 events across the country, all part of Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative to inspire young people to continue their education past high school. 

“We wanted to shine a big bright light on outstanding young people like you: we believe that the entire nation should be looking up to you all as our heroes and role models,” she said.

Dozens of celebrities, including Robert DeNiro, Allan Houston, Melissa McCarthy and Carmelo Anthony, joined the First Lady onstage to celebrate the cheering crowd of students.

The First Lady spoke from the heart about her own experiences as a first-generation college student. She said she arrived on campus for her first semester at Princeton without much idea of what to expect. 

“I was homesick, I was anxious, but after a couple months, I decided I needed to step up and own my college education just like I owned my high school education… and that I couldn't do it by myself,” she said. 

She encouraged the students to take a lesson from her own experience, and reach out to professors and mentors when they need help.

“It was incredible to be there and hear the First Lady say ‘I was the first person in my family to graduate college, and you can do it too,” said Brittany, an iMentor student who attends The Young Women’s Leadership School in Brooklyn.

Her classmate Emily was particularly struck by a request from the First Lady: “We’re so motivated to get into college, and when we show up on campus, she asked us to use the same motivation and determination to get through college and get our diplomas.”