The email subject line said: Please RSVP for Tomorrow’s Event with First Lady Michelle Obama.
The message landed at 12:25 p.m. on January 18, 2011. I sent my RSVP five seconds later. Michelle Obama has been one of my idols since her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign. It’s the way she carries herself with the poise, confidence, and grace. She is a very powerful and influential woman and has created her own worldwide identity. I admire how she stands beside President Obama without losing herself in his image. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity just to be in her presence.
But Wait, There’s a Catch
After RSVPing for my ticket, something told me to review the fine print in the e-mail. It read: “On January 19, 2011, doors will open at 8:30 a.m. Attendees need to arrive by 9:30 a.m. and the program will commence at 10:30 a.m.” This presented a problem. My Writing for the Media course started at 10:10 a.m. So, bright student that I am, I e-mailed my professor, “begging” him to consider a make-up assignment for missing class.
Ayanna, You Have the Golden Ticket
At 3:30 p.m. on January 18, 2011, I was picking up my ticket-one of 50 available in the office of Rochelle Ford, Associate Dean of the School of Communications. With the ticket stub in my hand, I knew it was official that I was going to be in the same room as Michelle Obama.
I had to tell someone.
I called my mother in Tennessee.
“Ayanna, this is so exciting! I am so proud of you and the moves you are making!!” Obviously, she was elated.
I sent text messages to two friends.
“Ayanna, I hate you and your DC lifestyle. I can’t believe you actually get to see Michelle Obama in person.” Considering we’re both from Johnson City, Tenn., I could understand her frustration.
My other friend was gentler.
“Congrats girl! Keep doin yo thang!!” he said.
Ticket in hand, news shared, and excused from class, I went home to prepare my clothes for the event. A nice sweater and a pair of dress slacks would suffice. After laying out my clothes, I realized that to get an exceptional seat, I would have leave my apartment by 7:45 a.m. at the latest. I wasn’t going to miss out on my chance to get a picture.
“I Am Proud to Present, Mrs. Michelle Obama”
At 6:30 a.m, my cell phone alarm sounded. Frightened that I might oversleep, I had my mom give me a “wake up” call. Drowsily, I rose out of bed and got dressed. Before I knew it, I was sitting in Cramton Auditorium, in a very good seat and it was 9:45 a.m.
“Only 45 more minutes.” I thought to myself. To pass the time, I watched as Secret Service patrolled the rows, checking for anything out of the ordinary.
After an excruciating wait, Howard University President Sidney Ribeau announced what all of us had been waiting to hear. “Students, faculty, and friends, I am extremely proud to present our First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama.”
We rose and applauded. I stared as she floated across the room, making her way to the stage. As a hush went over the room, the First Lady smiled and began her speech. She discussed the importance of forming a bond with countries outside of the U.S and strongly urging students to study abroad.
“When you study abroad not only will you change your own life, you change the lives of others.”
While she spoke, I fantasized that I ended up backstage interviewing the First Lady. The article I wrote was so entertaining and informative, it helped me land my dream internship at Essence magazine.
It Was Just A Dream
My dream was abruptly interrupted by the applause at the end of Obama’s speech. However, I’d comprehended enough of the First Lady’s speech and presence to know that she made me feel empowered to do whatever my heart desired. The study abroad idea intrigued me to search for other programs since I study Japanese.
I believe that the purpose of Michelle Obama’s visit to Howard was not to make my dreams come true, but to inspire me to be productive throughout my life.
The First Lady said her main goal during college was “getting in, getting through, and getting out.” That was a healthy reminder that although this is supposed to be the happiest time of my life, this time in college will help determine what happens next in my life. Michelle Obama allowed me to see that through hard work and dedication, I could become as accomplished and substantial as my First Lady.