In Dakar, Senegal, speaking at the Martin Luther King Middle School, First Lady Michelle Obama likened her upbringing to the upbringing of the Senegalese children at the school. Obama told the children of her "experience," and how it was similar to theirs.
"I know that what you all are doing here isn’t always easy," the first lady said to applause. "I know that some of you may be the first in your families to attend a school like Martin Luther King, so there might be people at home who don’t quite understand what you’re going through as you work to succeed here. And I know that for some of you, just sitting in these classrooms each day requires great sacrifices by your families."
"I know a little bit about this from my own experience. See, like many of you, I didn’t grow up in a family with a lot of money. My parents had to work hard every day to support us, so they never had the chance to get the kind of education they wanted for themselves. But they had big dreams for me. And more than anything in the world, they wanted me to graduate from secondary school and attend a university. So they, too, made tremendous sacrifices to make that dream come true," the first lady continued.
My father worked at the city water plant nearly every day of his life -- a job made more difficult because of his illness called Multiple Sclerosis, which damaged his muscles and made it harder for him to walk as he got older. But no matter how tired he was, no matter how much pain he was in, every morning, my father would pull himself out of bed would go to work to support our family. (Applause.)
And my father sacrificed and saved so that he could pay my university tuition. (Applause.) He even took out loans when he fell short. And let me tell you, there is not a day that goes by when I don’t feel the weight of my father’s sacrifice on my shoulders. (Applause.)
That was even more true when I was in school, like all of you. That’s why, day after day, I made sure I did everything in my power to make him proud. (Applause.) So I got up early to study. I stayed up late doing my homework. And despite my efforts, there were still plenty of people who doubted whether a girl from my humble background had what it took to succeed.
But I ignored the doubters and kept pushing forward. (Applause.) And I graduated from secondary school at the top of my class, and I went on to get a bachelor’s degree and graduate degree in law from two of the best universities in my country. And those degrees opened up so many opportunities for me to fulfill my dreams.
So over the course of my life, I've worked as a lawyer, as the director of a youth organization, and as vice president of a hospital. Because I had a good education, I was able to provide for my family, give back to my community, and now serve my country as First Lady.