Michelle Obama has been a crusader when it comes to empowering girls, not only in the U.S. but also across the world. On Tuesday the first lady discussed the fact that there are 62 million girls around the world who are not able to receive an education.
“For me, this is personal. When I think about those 62 million girls that aren’t in school, I think about myself. I think about my daughters,” Obama said at an event Tuesday hosted by Glamour magazine at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
The #62MillionGirls initiative is part of the recently launched Let Girls Learn campaign, which was begun to ensure that all girls have access to education.
“If we want to end global poverty, if we want to improve the plight of our country, educating girls is the key to all of that. It just is,” Obama said.
Obama also told the girls in attendance to focus on school and forget about the boys who aren’t into smart girls.
“There is no boy at this age that is cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education,” she said. “If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the president of the United States.”
The first lady also urged students to have patience and push through their four years of high school and not let the small things frustrate them.
“You don’t want to look back when you’re 60 and regret that you just didn’t have the patience to push through these four years of mess,” she said.
“You’ll have opportunity, and you’ll have control of your life to make choices. And you won’t have to listen to your parents, because you’ll have a job and you’ll pay your own bills. You want that freedom. Freedom comes later,” she said. “Now you invest. Now you put up with. Now you be patient. Because if you don’t do it now, then you’ll be living this cramped-up life for the rest of your life.”
Before the event, Obama appeared Monday night on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where she discussed the #62MillionGirls campaign as well as how she plans to spend her time when she leaves the White House.
“I want to do little things, like, you know, open a window,” she told Colbert. She went on to explain how a simple thing like rolling down the window in the car would make the Secret Service agents jumpy.
The Obamas have a little over a year left in the White House, and it’ll definitely be a sad day once they leave. But the first lady says she has a commitment to education and plans to continue her work.