SJSU invites Michelle Obama to speak to first-generation college students


San Jose State University has sent a formal invitation to First Lady Michelle Obama to attend and be the keynote speaker at their inaugural First-Generation Scholarship Luncheon. The event will take place on Feb. 25 in the Student Union Ballroom on the SJSU campus. As an advocate of higher education for all students, including first-generation college students, Michelle Obama is an inspiration to many students at SJSU. According to Amanda Aldama, First Generation College Student Programs coordinator, the White House is currently reviewing the event and the First Lady’s schedule.

In an attempt to get Mrs. Obama’s attention, GENERATE, the First-Generation College Student Program at SJSU, created a video. “We have followed the model of several other campuses who were successful in securing her attendance by making an invitation video,” said Aldama. Their video incorporates SJSU students into a video message Mrs. Obama recorded over a year ago for the “I’m First” project. In the video, Mrs. Obama shares her experience as a first-generation college student, and with every phrase, the SJSU video cuts to a student saying, “I Relate.” Aldama added, “It is our hope that, if this video gets trending, as it did for other campuses, then she may say yes.”

SJSU launched the “I Relate” campaign in 2013 to inform prospective and current students about the achievements of first-generation college students at SJSU. According to the “I Relate” website, more than half of all new Freshman and Transfer students are first-generation college students. GENERATE mission is to “foster connection, belongingness, skills and academic success for the first-generation college students of San Jose State University.” Some the resources GENERATE offers include workshops, campus events, peer mentors, and faculty mentors.

Michelle Obama receives many invitations every year to speak at events such as the SJSU event. Increasing the number of students who attend college has been a goal of the Obama administration since before they took office. An example of Mrs. Obama dedication to education is her “Reach Higher” initiative. The initiative is “to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school.” Last month, President Barack Obama proposed free community college education for all students. GENERATE, as well as SJSU, is encouraging everyone to view the “I Reach” invitation video in hopes of making it trend to catch the attention of the White House.

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