Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the site Upworthy as a guest curator to share content to inspire young people to reach higher and take charge of their future. Her first post highlighted inspiring stories from first-generation students at Kansas State University who have overcome challenges, and in her latest post she shares a powerful video of a College Signing Day assembly in San Antonio.
College Signing Day is special event to honor students who have committed to continue their education beyond high school. In May, the First Lady joined more than 2,000 San Antonio high school seniors for the community-wide event:
The fact is, a generation ago our country had the highest percentage of college graduates in the world. But today, we have dropped all the way to 12th. And that’s unacceptable. That’s not who we are. And all of you have a role to play to help get us get back on top, because the education you get today won’t just help you compete; it’s going to help our entire country compete in a global economy.
What if we gave all of our students the same kind of recognition that football and basketball players get when they commit to a college? That's what they do down in San Antonio for their College Signing Day. This past May, I traveled to San Antonio to cheer on these young people at a big rally full of thousands of students who committed not just to go to college, but to complete it.
The students all wear their college T-shirts. They practice their college cheers and chants. And they even meet their college mascots. But it’s not just the students who are involved. On College Signing Day, everyone in San Antonio — business leaders, city workers, teachers, and so many others — wears their alma mater’s T-shirt as well. It’s a way to show that higher education is a community-wide value, a way to show younger students that completing their education past high school is the norm. Because while students have to study hard and take responsibility for their futures, our communities — and our entire country — have to be there to support them every step of the way.
The good news is that these kinds of celebrations aren’t just happening in San Antonio. Schools and cities all across the country are showering their young people with encouragement and support like this as well. And in the years ahead, I hope even more communities will celebrate their students like this — and set an expectation of college completion. That’s how we’ll encourage our young people to reach higher. And that’s how together, we can help them create a better future for themselves and our country.