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Michelle Obama speaks in Washington D.C. in 2015

Photo Credit: The Department of Defense

On the second day of the Thrive conference honoring the University’s black alumni, conference attendees received words of praise and encouragement in what the University’s Instagram called a “surprise welcome message” from former first lady Michelle Obama ’85.

“Our classmates have spread out all across business, government, academia, and everywhere else,” Obama said. “And we can lean on each other for professional opportunities, for advice, for commiseration, and so much more.”

Obama described the Thrive conference as “a gathering to empower and celebrate the incredible black alumni of Princeton University.”

She had previously described her time at the University as “scary,” since the campus during her time here was “extremely white and very male.” However, Obama said that she soon found a home at the Third World Center, now the Carl A. Fields Center.

In the Instagram video, Obama expressed that what meant the most in her University experience were the friends she met during her time on campus.

“When I reflect back on my time on campus today, I don't think about the facts I memorized or the essays I stressed over,” Obama said. “I think about the people. I think about the roommates I laughed with all night long in the dorms, the mentors who got me to explore new ideas and experiences, the friends and acquaintances I met from all around the globe, the folks who helped this working-class girl from the South Side of Chicago broaden her understanding of the world.”

Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson ’83, served as a co-chair for the Thrive conference. He was also featured on a panel on Thursday called “Our Journeys To, Through And Beyond Princeton — More than One Way to Thrive.”

The conference’s first day included a “Startup Showcase” and a discussion with Princeton University Investment Company President Andrew K. Golden.

In the following days, the conference heard from President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 in Richardson Auditorium, and featured both a discussion on the Princeton and Slavery Project and a luncheon discussing civil service.

The Thrive conference happened concurrently with a discussion about and dedication of the new installation on Woodrow Wilson’s campus legacy, generally and on campus. Attendees of the Thrive conference were prioritized entry to the event, before students and the general public were allowed in.

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