by Darlene Superville
WASHINGTON (AP)—Michelle Obama, the president’s wife, told student essay contest winners from London on Feb. 18 that they have shown they are not afraid of the hard work that will take them somewhere in life.
“What you’re doing is laying that foundation,” she said at the White House. “You’re demonstrating to your families, to your teachers, to your communities that you’re ready to put in the work and be serious and be focused.
“And by doing that, the important thing is to know that you can do anything,” Mrs. Obama said. “You can do anything.”
She encouraged the group of 14- to 18-year-olds who attend schools in the London borough of Islington to continue doing what they are doing. The students won a Black History Month essay contest and were rewarded with the trip, which was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in London.
Among the 10 students seated at an oblong wooden table in the intimate Old Family Dining Room was Nanah Davies, who attends the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School. Mrs Obama delivered an emotional speech at the girls’ school during a visit to London last April.
“As I said then, I see myself in you all,” the first lady said.
Mrs. Obama said she did not realize that her path to becoming first lady “started with all the small stuff,” like going to school, being disciplined, trying her best at whatever she did and listening to her teachers.
She encouraged the students to make the most of their high school years and not to be afraid to make mistakes. She said now is the time to get some things wrong, because they are still learning.
“I tell my kids that this is practice for the rest of your life because you don’t wake up and become the person that you are,” Mrs. Obama said.
“President Obama didn’t wake up to become who he is.”