First Lady Michelle Obama Meets Early College Students During Visit to Washington High School

By K.J. Williams, Crim Center Intern

first lady crim center

First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stop by the Early College display table at Washington High School.

On September 8, 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama and United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, spoke to students and leaders on post-secondary education at a college fair hosted at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. Along with Secretary Duncan, the First Lady delivered remarks at the rally to promote her Reach Higher initiative, which emphasizes the necessity of completing some form of higher education.

Dr. Tene Davis, Associate Director of the Georgia State University’s Early College program, was asked to attend the college fair with some of the Early College students. The Early College program, housed in the College of Education & Human Development’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, offers high school students at Booker T. Washington High School and Georgia Washington Carver Early College High school the opportunity to enroll at Georgia State University as early as their junior year in high school.  Students in the program can potentially earn up to two years of college credit by the time they graduate from high school.

I was able to sit down with Dr. Davis and ask her a couple questions about the day with the First Lady and the Secretary of Education.

How was the Crim Center able to meet with First Lady Obama and Secretary Duncan?

When the time came for First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan to speak to students, only four schools were allowed to remain in the cafeteria [where the fair was located], one of which was Georgia State University. Of course, the Crim Center was specifically able to stay because of our ongoing relationship with Washington High School through the Early College program.

What Early College students participated in this meeting?

[When] the First Lady and Secretary Duncan came over to the Early College table, they were escorted by Early College alumna Alexandria Jones, who is currently a student at Kennesaw State University. She led the delegation along with two other current members of Early College. The students were thrilled to meet the First Lady and actively engage with her.

How did the students respond to First Lady Obama being so attentive to their presentations?

They were very surprised about that! We all thought it was going to be a quick sweep through, but First Lady Obama and Secretary Duncan actually met with the students for a good ten minutes. They both asked a lot of questions about the Early College program. The students were able to talk about their experiences and the benefits of the program. Having students like Alexandria Jones there to share how the Early College program enabled her to transition smoothly into Kennesaw State University was a good way for them to see the impact of our hard work.

For the students, this was an experience of a lifetime. They were able to witness and talk to prominent figures who truly want to help equip them with the knowledge and tools needed for them to transition from young students to the world’s future leaders.

For more information on the Early College program at Georgia State University, please contact Dr. Tene Davis at tdavis134@gsu.edu