For the past eight years, Michelle Obama has been a symbolic beacon of hope as the First Lady alongside President Barack Obama. She delivered her final official speech on Tuesday — it was a reminder to continue pushing forward with resiliency and the prospect of change, similar to the sentiment she and her husband urged for before his historic election in 2008.
Obama delivered the speech at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year ceremony, which she first began in 2015 under her “Reach Higher” initiative to promote higher education. Behind her stood educators and counselors, who were emotional as she spoke and thanked them for their “passion and…dedication and all the hard work on behalf of the next generation.” Choked up, she also turned her attention to young people to address the fears and concerns as a result of the 2016 election:
I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid — you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.
Watch Obama’s moving speech in its entirety above.