President Barack Obama may have been named Time’s 2012 Person of the Year, but First Lady Michelle Obama is my Person of the Decade. As someone who hadn’t experienced living in the national spotlight before her husband’s meteoric rise to the highest office in the land, it seems she’s taken to her mantle as role model to millions of women and girls effortlessly and with ease. As one voter put it, “she reminds me of a regular woman who won the lottery.”
For The Grace Of It
Not only is Mrs. Obama highly intelligent and a serious professional, she is the personification of beauty, grace, elegance, and glamour. She’s been compared to the likes of Princess Diana and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by the British media and has long since won over her many initial detractors with wit and homespun charm.
In her role as First Lady, Mrs. Obama has distinguished herself as one who advocates for military personnel and their families, working moms and their families, encourages involvement in national service, as well as, for the rights of poor and disenfranchised populations.
Her signature initiative, as of late, seems to be educating children about the benefits of healthy nutrition and exercise. She’s a strong supporter of growing organic veggies, as she and a group of first graders planted, on the South lawn of the White House, the first garden since Eleanor Roosevelt did so during her tenure as First Lady. Mrs. Obama even had beehives installed so that the first family and their guests can enjoy fresh honey during meals.
She’s also a devoted wife and mother who, despite numerous responsibilities publicly and privately, ensures she’s always available for her husband and daughters Malia and Natasha (also known as Sasha). Despite references to iconic princesses and first ladies, many American women liken her to a neighbor balancing a lot of the same tasks as other working moms. To me, she’s very down to earth.
The Simple Life
Before becoming Mrs. Obama and First Lady of the United States, she was known as Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, the daughter of working class parents in the southern part of Chicago, Illinois. There was nothing abnormal about her childhood or her nuclear family. Her mom, Marion, was a homemaker while dad, Fraser III, worked for the city and was elected to public office as a Democratic Party liaison.
Life was pretty normal for the Robinson clan, which includes Mrs. Obama’s older brother, Craig. After dinner every night, their leisure time was spent playing board games or reading. They attended church on Sunday and regularly vacationed in a charming cabin in Michigan.
Head of Her Class
Mrs. Obama differentiated herself as a stellar student early on by advancing from the first to the third grade, following in Craig’s footsteps. In her sixth year of elementary school, she attended a gifted class. While in high school she took college-level courses, made the honor roll each year, and was a member of the National Honor Society. She graduated as second highest student in her graduating class.
She again followed in her brother’s footsteps by attending a prestigious Ivy League school where she majored in the social sciences and minored in African American studies. She graduated with honors in 1985 and did the same by earning her Juris Doctorate degree from another Ivy League school in 1988.
Her career in Chicago after graduating from law school is just as remarkable as her education. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Two high profile public government positions, one of which included working in the mayor’s office
- Associate Dean of Student Services at a premier university
- Two prestigious executive positions at a major hospital
- Paid board member of a public company which markets to the retail and foodservice industries
But her life in Camelot or “Bamelot” began when she found her first influential job at a prominent law firm, where she met her future husband. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Perfect Role Model
In my research of Mrs. Obama’s life, I’ve found few things lacking, no skeletons in the closet, and not one of her former colleagues have anything bad to say about her. She’s the perfect role model because she was raised with perfect role models, who had high expectations and who inspired her to achieve lofty goals. Because of this superior upbringing, she has accomplished what few have and succeeded in every area she’s attempted to master.
I must admit to being somewhat biased when it comes to Mrs. Obama because of her ability to embody strength, honesty, passion, commitment, and honor in the face of difficult challenges. As one former colleague stated, “ she’s Barack’s rock.” The dignity she has displayed throughout her life and during one of the most historic presidential campaigns in years, has me convinced this woman can do no wrong. She’s definitely a class act.