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Reaching Higher With The First Lady: The Farewell Weekend To The Obamas

First Lady Michelle Obama
Editor-in-Chief Ksenija Pavlovic

Editor-in-Chief Ksenija Pavlovic heads down to the White House for the final speech of the First Lady Michelle Obama which turned out to be the most inspirational farewell weekend staggered by the celebration of educational achievements and A-list celebrities.

8:00 A.M. Below freezing Friday morning in Washington D.C. Today, at the White House, the First Lady Michelle Obama will host 50 school counselors for the 2017  Counselor of the Year Ceremony. Through her Reach Higher initiative and Better Make Room campaign, the First Lady has teamed up with actors, singers, and sports legends to celebrate students and their educational achievements.

opening-29:45  A.M. I am at the at the security checkpoint at  NW gate of 17th St. and Pennsylvania Avenue. This is the security post situated next to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The press is gathering for the pre-set up for what will soon be a historic last speech of the First Lady Michelle Obama.  I am walking down the Eisenhower building to the second security checkpoint where the Secret Service agents are swiping our equipment.

10:00 A.M. The press corps are gathering at The White House Briefing room.

11:00 A.M. The East Room. It is here where Richard Nixon announced his resignation to his staff. With festive music, crystal chandeliers, and golden drapes; everything is set for the final speech of the First Lady Michelle Obama. Apart from the political posse, the celebrity one is here as well:  Ted Allen, La La Anthony, Connie Britton, Andy Cohen, Carla Hall, Coach Jim Harbaugh and his beautiful wife, Lana Parrilla, Jay Pharoah, Kelly Rowland, Usher, Wale and Allison Williams.

11:47 A.M. In the knitted red dress enters The First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed by the roaring applause. She goes up on the stage to welcome everyone for the last time officially to the White House taking a moment to acknowledge the Secretary of Education, John King as well as the former Education Secretary, Arne Duncan.

jay-pharorah
Jay Pharorah at the White House

Michelle Obama was through the last eight years extremely successful in attracting star power to inspire young people across America. Her guiding principle was to make higher education cool in an effort to change the conversation around what it means and what it takes to be successful in America.

The commitment of the First Lady was in her own words to make sure that “those kids matter; that they have something to offer; that no matter where they’re from or how much money their parents have, no matter what they look like or who they love or how they worship or what language they speak at home, they have a place in this country.”

In what is probably the most honest and raw of all her speeches, the First Lady Michelle Obama is opening up about the beginning her and President Obama’s life together. “We started out with very little.  But with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible — even becoming President.  That’s what the American Dream is all about,” she says welcomed by a loud applause.

First Lady Michelle ObamaIt was the fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed the Obamas to rise above the voices of doubt and division.  What for her was an innate conviction, it translated to the very essence of the Obama’s presidency. However, the First Lady is not shy from acknowledging obstacles that are part of everyone’s life.

“ When you are struggling and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago, something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives, and that is the power of hope — the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.

First Lady Michelle ObamaI want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong.  So don’t be afraid –- you hear me, young people?  Don’t be afraid.  Be focused.  Be determined.  Be hopeful.  Be empowered.  Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.  Lead by example with hope, never fear.  And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.”

The atmosphere in the East Room is raw and emotional. The First Lady Michelle Obama holds no pretenses. She is real and deadly serious about who she is.

12:07 P.M. After the speech, the guests mingle while the jazz band is playing. Everyone is talking about the farewell party that will take place later this evening. It all has a flair of the Vanity Fair party, but this time at the White House.

First Lady Michelle Obama17:00 P.M. St Regis tea room. The Spin City actress  Lana Parrilla is sitting at the table next to me, drinking a glass of champagne. She is barefoot and is resting her feet on the chair. Everyone is in town for tonight’s party: John Legend, Gwyneth Paltrow, George and Amal Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jon Hamm, Paul McCartney, Tom Hanks, George Lucas, Stevie Wonder, Robert De Niro, Lena Dunham, David Letterman, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Rock, Tyler Perry.

20:30 P.M.  By Invitation Only farewell party at the White House. One rule only: No cameras.

 

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About the author

Ksenija Pavlovic

Ksenija Pavlovic

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent.

Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department at Yale University, Lead Instructor in International Affairs and Security and Politics Law and Economics programs at Yale Global Scholars, Head Writing Fellow at the Yale Graduate Writing Center, Fellow of the “Research and Travel Award in Grand Strategy” from International Security Studies (ISS) at Yale University, Fellow of the Roger Hertog Global Strategy Initiative in Religious Violence at Columbia University, a Doctoral candidate in Political Conflict and Peace Building Processes at Complutense University in Madrid, Fellow of the OSI Global Supplementary Grant Program, and a Visiting Doctoral Fellow at the Juan March Institute. She holds an M.Sc. in European Politics from the London School of Economics, an M.A. in American Politics, and a B.A. in Journalism and Communication from the University of Belgrade. She speaks English, Serbian, Croatian, and Spanish.

Pavlovic has interviewed exclusively pivotal figures including Arianna Huffington, Sir Richard Branson, President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim, Karlie Kloss, filmmaker and founder of the Webby awards Tiffany Shlain, film director Lars von Trier, actors Adam Brody, Monica Bellucci, fashion designers Adolfo Dominguez, Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan, publisher and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes; the world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic; novelist Martin Amis, as well as big names in the governmental arena such as the former President of Serbia Boris Tadic, the leading members of the first democratic Serbian government and Milorad Dodik, President of the Serbian entity of BIH. Moreover, Ms. Pavlovic has exclusively covered the Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, London Film Festival, Madrid Fashion Week, The Madrid Open, and a range of other international benefit and political events.

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