Michelle Obama Encourages Oberlin College Graduates to 'Shake Things Up'

Pam WrightLife

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Michelle Obama encouraged Oberlin College graduates Monday to "shake things up" during the 2015 commencement address.

Inspiring the nearly 700 graduates of the liberal arts college to volunteer and consider holding public office, Michelle Obama said the college grads need to move past their comfort zones as they leave the school to push for change.

Telling the graduates to carry on the "Oberlin legacy of service and social justice" and "run to, not away from the noise," the first lady noted that the road to success and change is not always the easiest route to take.

"Will this be easy? No, of course not. It will be hard, stressful and frustrating," Michelle Obama said. "Get in there, shake things up, don't be afraid."

Michelle Obama spoke at Oberlin because it was among three colleges chosen in the first lady's Near-Peer Video Commencement Challenge. She has already delivered a commencement address at Alabama's Tuskegee University on May 9 and will do so at Chicago's Kings College Preparatory High School on June 9.

Patrick Gilfether won Michelle Obama's challenge for Oberlin with a video that celebrates the school's Ninde Scholars program, which provides support and college access services to 7th through 12th graders in the Oberlin City Schools.

"The video highlights the importance both the college and town place on building and sustaining community partnerships and a shared commitment to providing educational opportunities for Oberlin's young people," said Oberlin spokesman Scott Wargo.

Michelle Obama, who received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the college, left students with encouraging words by which to live.

"You have just as much responsibility—and just as much power—to wake up and play your part in our great American story," said Michelle Obama.

Pam Wright