Michelle Obama doesn’t want to be the only “first lady.”
The wife of America’s commander-in-chief on Monday announced a new program to give D.C.-area girls contact with women who work at the White House. Chosen by recommendation from principals who determined which students would most benefit from mentoring, 20 youths are expected to participate.
“We thought, ‘What can we do to make the White House different, to make kids in our own new neighborhood know that the White House is a place for them?’” Obama told media.
Joined by 13 of the girls who will be mentored, along with 18 White House staff members, Obama said she’d envisioned the program as one of her priorities when she became first lady this year. Advisors Melody Barnes and Valerie Jarrett helped Obama launch the initiative in the State Dining Room.
Widely revered for her professional accomplishments, motherly devotion and even for her fashion sense, Obama has already become an inspiration for countless women and girls in the Black community. The mentoring effort is an extension of the connection that she and her family have already made with many who support President Obama’s leadership, she said.
The Obama family wants youth to “know that the president of the United States hears you and values you and cares about your growth and development,” Michelle Obama added. The Obamas have two daughters of their own.
Girls in the 10th and 11th grade from both public and private schools in Washington, Maryland and Virginia are to meet as a group with mentors at least once a month, but there may be more frequent contact. A similar program for boys will be announced soon, according to the White House.
“We have some expectations from you as well,” Obama told the teenagers. “That when you get to this position in your life that you do the same thing for somebody else.”