Michelle Obama fulfills her promise and speaks at the George Washington Graduation Ceremony
By Natasha Chadha
Inspiration is everywhere. It is on every corner, every street, and behind every door – you just need to know where to look. Need help finding it? Inspiration is everywhere within George Washington University. On Sunday, May 16, 2010, one hundred and seventy six George Washington University students transitioned from their regular name to adding two simple letters after it: M.D. Their extravagant gala on Friday, May 14, where the medical students were dressed their best in front of friends, family, and faculty, exemplified the students preparedness for this transition and their extraordinary amount of passion regarding the transition. To medical student Nina Niamkey, the entire day was surreal, as she spent a “long time dreaming of being a doctor” and simply could not grasp that her dream had finally become a reality. She now has a tremendous “sense of accomplishment” and is confident that “no other medical school would have been as perfect.” Niamkey is grateful for her entire class and faculty’s endless amount of support. It was a special day for all the students and their families. However, from the awards and dancing at the gala, to the receiving of the diploma on Sunday, Niamkey, along with others, agree that Michelle Obama was the highlight of the day.
Niamkey loves that “GW has a spirit of giving and service”, a quality underscored in Michelle Obama’s speech. Not only is Mrs. Obama an incredible role model, but, as said by her introducer, she has always had a “vision of bringing campus and community together.” In the beginning of the year, she challenged George Washington students and faculty to do 100,000 hours of community service, and if they met this challenge, she would speak at their commencement. This Michelle Obama Challenge was clearly met, as she spoke at the ceremony and discussed students building houses, schools, picking up groceries for the elderly, and more. The challenge motivated GW to help other people. Mrs. Obama emphasizes the fact that GW met her challenge was not impressive but what was impressive was how they did it. She even gave the medical school special recognition when she said, “[the medical students’] ran their own clinic for our neighbors.” Proof of the students’ passion to reach out and help others is seen in the lottery system they had to create since so many people wanted to participate in the clinic. They made such a difference and made everyone proud. Michelle Obama added that “they don’t know the meaning of ‘can’t’.” All they think is, “Oh, yes I can!” They are willing to help anyone and everyone.
Mrs. Obama also emphasized that “creating anything meaningful takes time” and her advice for the students was also her last challenge for them: “keep going” and “keep giving.” Niamkey, who began to tear up when Michelle Obama talked about the new challenge for the class of 2010, says that the first lady “put things in perspective.” She told the students to “keep being you and keep doing what you’re doing.” Michelle Obama reminded everyone that “we all have the same dream” and ended her speech by saying that the new challenge begins now and this is a challenge that does not stop after 100,000 hours. It is a challenge that lasts a lifetime and the reward is the challenge itself.
Natasha Chadha is a senior at Flint Hill High School and will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall. She will be majoring in English and hopes to one day become a teacher and a writer. Currently, she is interning at the Washington Life Magazine.