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Michelle: The woman who keeps Obama real

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th January 2009 03:00 AM

INDEED it is amazing what can happen in a single lifetime. Thirty years ago, Michelle was a 15-year-old teenager sharing a bedroom with her brother Craig. In fact it was not even a real bedroom, but the sitting room of her parent’s one bedroom apartment

INDEED it is amazing what can happen in a single lifetime. Thirty years ago, Michelle was a 15-year-old teenager sharing a bedroom with her brother Craig. In fact it was not even a real bedroom, but the sitting room of her parent’s one bedroom apartment

INDEED it is amazing what can happen in a single lifetime. Thirty years ago, Michelle was a 15-year-old teenager sharing a bedroom with her brother Craig. In fact it was not even a real bedroom, but the sitting room of her parent’s one bedroom apartment on the south side of Illinois Chicago. 

Starting Tuesday, she will be living in the 132-roomed presidential mansion — the White House on the most famous address in the US — 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the first lady of the United States – madam de la maison of the White House. 

Yet, Michelle is probably not even marvelling at this feat. After all, she has always hit the sky with every one of her achievements.

The very brilliant daughter of a pump operator skipped second grade, qualified to go to a programme for the most gifted students when she was in sixth grade and graduated second in her class at one of Chicago’s best high schools.

Still, her teacher discouraged her from applying for the prestigious Princeton University saying she did not have the grades. Some credit the university’s affirmative action towards blacks for her admission to Princeton. However, whether she was admitted on merit or not, she proved her worth when she graduated with an honours’ bachelor’s degree.

For postgraduate studies, she was admitted to the illustrious Harvard Law School from which she graduated in 1988 when she was 24 years of age.

As an alumni of Princeton and Harvard, she could have gone on to build a most lucrative law career and for the first few years she seemed headed there when she worked at the well-paying and famous Chicago law firm Sidley Austin. It was at the law firm that she met Barack Obama. He was interning at the firm and Michelle was appointed to be his mentor. The two fell in love and in 1992, they got married. In a recent ABC interview, Michelle said: “Barack didn’t pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise he’s delivered.”

In 1991 when her father died, Michelle rethought her path and left corporate law for public service. She first served as an assistant to the mayor of Chicago later as assistant commissioner for planning and development.

In 1993 (at 29) she founded Public Allies Chicago which provided young adults with leadership training and encouraged them to go into public service. 

At 32, she joined Chicago University as associate dean of student services and there she established the university’s first community services programme.

She was later named as executive director of community and external affairs. Until a few days ago, she had a vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center in charge of community affairs.

Commenting about leaving the lucrative law practice for community services, Michelle said to New York Times, I wanted to have a career motivated by passion and not just money.”

Now she has quit her job to concentrate on being the First Lady and hopes are high about that she will be making some real changes in the first lady’ job description.

Although Michelle is seen as liberal about women’s status in society, she does not consider herself a feminist and resists being described as such.

In fact when asked to describe herself, she said she is Sasha and Malia’s mother first and foremost. Even during the campaign, for their sake she insisted that she would never be away from home for more than two days.
Compiled by Lydia Namubiru

Michelle: The woman who keeps Obama real

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