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The First Lady Celebrates the 2015 Graduates of Oberlin College

See the First Lady's commencement address to the class of 2015 at Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio.

This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the Class of 2015 at Oberlin College in Ohio. 

First Lady Michelle Obama at Oberlin College

First Lady Michelle Obama is presented an honor sash during Oberlin College commencement ceremony in Oberlin, Ohio May 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

The First Lady addressed the graduating Oberlin College class because Oberlin College was selected as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative’s “Near-Peer Mentoring College” Challenge – a challenge to institutes of higher education urging them to share videos on the ways they are helping high school students take charge of their future.

Oberlin’s near-peer challenge video showcased student voices from their Ninde Scholars Program, which matches Oberlin undergrads who provide academic support and college-access services to high school students in Ohio public schools. Oberlin's efforts exemplify the First Lady's mission to encourage schools to promote "near peer" mentorship. You can watch Oberlin College’s submission video here.

Not only was Oberlin the winner of her challenge, and a shining example of how to get underserved young people go on to college, but it held historical significance for Mrs. Obama as well.

"Oberlin is likely the only college in America that I could have attended nearly two centuries ago, and I am honored to be part of the extraordinary legacy of this great institution."

— First Lady Michelle Obama

Oberlin College was the first college in America to adopt a policy to admit African American students, as well as the first co-ed school to grant bachelor’s degrees to women -- and this year marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s own commencement address at Oberlin College.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Carr at Oberlin

Commencement 1965: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Oberlin President Robert Carr in the Commencement processional. Mrs. Carr and Mrs. Coretta Scott King look on. (by the Oberlin College Archives)

The First Lady urged today's graduates of Oberlin to channel Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the spirit he aroused 50 years ago, to tackle the problems of today:

"You see, in his speech to those Oberlin graduates 50 years ago, Dr. King urged them, as Julia said, not to sleep through the civil rights revolution that was raging across this country. And, graduates, climate change, economic inequality, human rights, criminal justice -– these are the revolutions of your time."

— First Lady Michelle Obama

The First Lady also urged the graduates to “rise above the noise and shape the revolutions of your time.” For, she said, “That is how you will have a meaningful journey on those clamorous highways of life.”

See the First Lady’s full remarks from her speech at Oberlin College here.  

Check out more information on the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, encouraging all kids to strive for a brighter future, here