Fort Worth ISD Students Attend Book Tour Presentation by Michelle Obama
Several dozen Fort Worth ISD students attended Michelle Obama’s book tour stop in Dallas on Monday, but earlier in the day two representatives from the Young Women’s Leadership Academy were treated to a surprise meet-and-greet event with the former first lady.
YWLA students Brittany Clay and Diana Duran were attending the Young Women’s Leadership Conference: Leadership Lessons Learned through the Arts when Mrs. Obama made an unplanned appearance at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. In all, eleven YWLA students attending the conference received an autographed copy of Mrs. Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” and a journal.
As the former first lady appeared, gasps echoed through the room. The girls in the room were in tears.
“I loved it. Honestly just seeing her and hugging her, I felt all these positive vibes,” said Brittany Clay shortly after meeting Mrs. Obama. “It was great. I couldn’t stop crying.
“It was so emotional and [Mrs. Obama] was telling us just be ourselves … don’t compare yourself to anyone else, you can do it, and if you’re coming from a low-income place, it’s fine. She did the same thing. All she kept saying was ‘you’re just like me.’”
Tamara Albury, YWLA principal, called her students’ experience life changing. Prior to attending the conference, YWLA students read “Becoming” and wrote essays about the memoir.
“The time that she took to pour into my kids and young women in general is so special,” Ms. Albury said.
The conference, and tickets to Mrs. Obama’s book tour was underwritten for YWLA students by the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, an anonymous donor and the AT&T Performance Arts Center.
Later Mrs. Obama sat down for a conversation moderated by Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The sold-out evening event – “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama” -- was attended by an additional 67 high school and middle school students from Fort Worth ISD.
The FWISD participants won a contest in which they completed a 500-word or less essay on how Mrs. Obama has modeled leadership and scholarship in her lifetime, the ways they themselves have exemplified leadership at their school and in the community, and the impact attending this event would have on their life.
Other criteria for selection included the student’s attendance record, leadership attributes, extracurricular activity participation and whether the students were first-generation college bound or economically disadvantaged.
The Reach Higher Initiative, which Mrs. Obama launched in 2014, encourages students, especially first-generation college and low-income students, to pursue a postsecondary education.
“You inspire me to continue going to school and trying even harder, because your initiatives made me aware that some girls do not have the opportunity I do,” wrote contest winner and World Languages Institute student Melany Rodriguez in her essay about Mrs. Obama. “My school has handed me the bolt cutter I need to break generational chains. And, every teacher and friend who cares about me is helping me hold onto that cutter and clinch with all their might to finally let those chains free me, so that all of my hopes and aspirations for myself and this earth can be let loose in the world.”
Released November 13, Mrs. Obama’s memoir, “Becoming” in just a little over two weeks became the top-selling book of 2018, according to publisher, Penguin Random House. The book remains No. 1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list in print, electronic book and hardcover nonfiction. In just over a month, 6 million copies of the book have been printed in 33 languages worldwide.
“Becoming” is among “the fastest-selling nonfiction titles ever and promises to become one of the best-selling political memoirs of all time,” according to The Washington Post.
The day “Becoming” debuted, Mrs. Obama launched “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama,” a U.S., Canadian and European book tour which is making 37 stops at mostly arena-style venues in 33 cities through May 2019.