The First Lady said she wanted to speak at a DC public school to celebrate the achievements of young people in her new hometown. WMST, which aims to provide a rigorous education integrating science and mathematics with technology, has a 99% graduation rate this year. The First Lady said the school helped prepare its students for success:
They are coming from a school that believes that all children, young people, can learn -- that`s an important start; just hearing the stories of these speakers, a school that is welcoming, that is open, where teachers know and love their kids; a school that believes that all students should be able to succeed and should be held to the highest standards; a school that challenges stereotypes and proves that African American and Latino students can excel in math and science. (Applause.) That`s amazing. So let`s be clear: These graduates will be just as prepared for anything they do, they will be just as prepared as any other student that will arrive at their new schools.
Despite this preparation, the First Lady said it is natural for graduates to doubt themselves and question their abilities when they first set foot onto their new college campuses. She said that she had these same feelings when she first attended Princeton, but she told students they shouldn`t be intimidated:
When you set foot on the soil of whatever campus that has admitted you, understand that you are responsible for your own experiences. So what I want you to do is own your voice. Own it. Don`t be intimidated by your new surroundings. Remember, everyone else is in the same position that you`re in. Be an engaged and active participant in all of your classes. Never, ever sit in silence, ever. That first day, raise your hand, use your voice, ask a question. Don`t be afraid to be wrong, don`t be afraid to sound unclear, because understand this is the only way you`ll learn.
The First Lady concluded her inspiring message by saying that graduates need to have confidence in themselves, and that they have what it takes to succeed:
So graduates of 2009, with a solid education foundation and a firm hold of your dreams, and with the support of your families and a willingness to work hard, I can assure you, you`re more than ready.