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Michelle Obama was born 58 years ago in Illinois. She grew up on the south side of Chicago with a blue collar family background. The forty-fourth first lady of the United States of America would go on to get her undergraduate degree from Princeton before attending Harvard Law School.

Michelle returned to her hometown of Chicago, after receiving her J.D. (Juris Doctor) in 1998, and began work at a corporate law firm. It was there she would meet a summer intern named Barack Obama. They would be married in 1992, a year after Michelle left corporate law to pursue a career in public service. She began as an assistant to former Chicago mayor Richard Daley, and would soon become the city’s assistant commissioner of planning and development. In 1993, Chicago’s branch of Public Allies, a “national movement committed to advancing social justice and equity by engaging and activating the leadership of all young people”, named Michelle their executive director. When she continued her career by moving to the collegiate scene, she would be the associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago. While there, she developed the school’s first community service program.

Between Barack Obama’s run for state senator in 1996, and Michelle’s appointment as executive director of community relations and external affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2002, Michelle and Barack welcomed two daughters: Malia was born in 1998, and her sister Sasha joined the family in 2001.

By 2005, Michelle had been promoted to vice president at the University of Chicago and served on numerous education and global affairs boards. She would eventually scale back her hours and take a leave of absence to help Barack’s presidential bid. She will remain a historical part of our country, as the first African American first lady. And in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president, she was also the third first lady to have a post-graduate degree.

Mrs. Obama’s career as a public servant looked to take a back seat to Barack’s political career. However, Michelle would go on to serve the public for another 8 years as their first lady and as an advocate for nutrition, military families, and education and career-development.

In 2009, the first lady worked with local elementary school children to plant a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House. This 1,100 square foot garden was meant to create a conversation about the health and wellbeing of the country. It also led to Michelle’s Let’s Move! initiative, which launched in 2010. Let’s Move! helped to establish the first ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity. A national action plan was created to engage community and families, with the hopes of improving the health of our nation’s children.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton of First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House Kitchen Garden 2009. Find the top 10 FLOTUS moments from Let’s Move here.

In 2011, Mrs. Obama co-founded the Joining Forces program with Dr. Jill Biden. Joining Forces expanded educational and employment options for veterans and called “all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families and support them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities.”. After Barack Obama secured his second term as president, Michelle formed the Reach Higher initiative to “inspire every student in the U.S. to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.”

While working on securing support for the children, veterans, and communities – Michelle has also managed to stay true to her family theme she spoke about during Barack’s campaigning. She has remained a dedicated, diligent, and proud parent of their two daughters, and even moved her own mother to the White House with them. Michelle will be remembered, as time goes on, for being the first African American First Lady. But, she will also be remembered for caring for children: hers and our nation’s.

Michelle and Barack Obama, with their two young daughters. Photo courtesy of: Michelle Obama’s Instagram

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