Janel Dyan

Women Crushing It Wednesday

#WCIW: Michelle Obama

Fierce First Lady. Healthy Family Advocate. Badass.

The Former First Lady champions healthy eating and empowering strong girls.  Born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson on January 17,1964, the mother of two has made it her mission to raise awareness of childhood obesity.  She launched the national Let’s Move campaign while in the White House and it has become her legacy as First Lady.  And, it is the pinnacle of her lifelong desire to give back and serve others.

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After graduating high school as class Salutatorian in 1981, Michelle studied Sociology and African American Studies at Princeton.  She graduated cum laude in 1985 and decided to continue her education at Harvard Law School.  While in attendance, she was an active participant in demonstrations calling for the enrollment and hiring of more minority students and faculty.  She was awarded her J.D. in 1988.  

After her studies, she found work with the law firm Sidley and Austin.  It was there that she met a young Summer intern named Barack Obama.  Michelle was assigned to Obama as an advisor, but the two hit it off almost immediately.  However, believing it inappropriate due to their work relationship, Michelle initially refused to date Barack.  Obama eventually won her over, however, and the two dated for two years before marrying in 1992.

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Michelle had always felt that her true calling would be in serving her community and helping others.  

She began to pursue a career in public service in 1991 and never looked back.  She worked as an assistant for the mayor, as assistant commissioner of planning and development for the City of Chicago, and as executive director for the Chicago office of Public Allies--a nonprofit leadership-training program that helped young adults develop skills for future careers in the public sector.  She found a passion in working with young people and, in 1996, began working as the associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago.  In that position she helped to establish the school’s very first community service program.  

In 1998, Michelle Obama added “mother” to her lengthening list of accomplishments.  Malia was born on July 4th of that year.  Sasha was born on June 10, 2001.  Of motherhood, Michelle has said, “You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still 'mom-in-chief.' My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.

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In 2002, Michelle began working for the University of Chicago Medical Center first as Executive Director of community relations and external affairs, then,in 2005 as Vice President for community and external affairs.  She would remain in that position until just before Barack’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States.

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As First Lady of the United States, Michelle was determined to make an impact.  Building upon her passion for helping young people, she launched the program Let’s Move! In 2010.  The program focused on preventing childhood obesity from a young age through encouraging play, movement, and exercise, as well as healthy eating habits.  The program provided educational materials for parents and schools, and encouraged corporations--especially fast food--to be more mindful of the advertisements they aimed at children and families.  During her 8 years as First Lady, Michelle also championed causes and platforms like Joining Forces (a co-effort with Dr. Jill Biden), Reach Higher, and Let Girls Learn.

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For her many accomplishments as First Lady, her advocacy for healthy families, and her badass career, Michelle Obama is this week’s #WCIW.

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