In a rare mention of her alma mater, First Lady Michelle Obama ’85referred to the Universityas "probably the iviest of the Ivy League” while addressing high school students at an event heldThursdayin Chicago. She also stressed the importance of the support systems in helping her navigate an unfamiliar world of privilege at Princeton.
Obama was addressing high school interns ofUrban Alliance, an employment program for underprivileged high school students.
Since graduating, Obama has returned to the University twice—both times before she became first lady. Since her husband’s election, she hasdeclined numerous invitations to return to campus. Though she frequently makes public references to her time in “college,” Obama rarely speaks of Princeton by name.
The reference came as a reply to an audience member who asked Obama for words of wisdom for a youth dedicated to success but lacking self-certainty.
Obama replied that she could relate, having grown up “one minute on 74th and Euclid, the next minute in a dorm room at Princeton University—which is probably the iviest of the Ivy League."According to theWhite House transcript, her remark elicited laughter from the crowd.
Obama said that no one had told her to apply to Princeton, and the only reason the University was on her radar was because of her brother Craig Robinson '83, current head basketball coach at Oregon State University.
“I applied because my brother got in, and as I said, I knew I was smarter than him,” she added.
Regarding her time at the University, Obama said she entered a campus “where everyone is wealthy” and recalled meeting the granddaughter of the person her dorm was named after, as well as students who actually studied for the SATs.
“There were just a lot of opportunities that kids like that had that I didn’t even know existed,” she said.She told the audience to seek out support systems, crediting the head of the University’s Third World Center as a “terrific ally.”
Almost a year has passed since Obama expressed plans to return to campus at some point duringa campaign speechin the town of Princeton last September. The event took place at the home ofPrinceton University Investment Company President Andrew Golden.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a chance to get back on campus, but I’m going to make that happen,” Obama told a crowd that included University faculty and students.