Michelle Obama Pays Surprise Visit to Gila River Indian Community StudentsTop Stories

February 13, 2019 11:23
Michelle Obama Pays Surprise Visit to Gila River Indian Community Students

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The former first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday made a surprise visit to Huhugam Heritage Center to meet students of the Gila River Indian community.

Michelle Obama joined Gila River Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, who already was meeting with the students at the Huhugam Heritage Center on the reservation. The select handful of students was sitting around a table when the governor grinned and appeared shocked as Obama entered the room.

While Obama was in Phoenix for a stop on her book tour, she met with the students to hear the stories regarding life on the Gila River Reservation south of Phoenix.

In response, the students began speaking one after another about their current level of education, plans, and challenges they face.

One student shared her experience with adapting to a college environment, which lacked the same cultural support system she experienced in Native American schools. Obama acknowledged the challenge.

"Being the only one is hard, and it takes a toll on you in a way that the majorities don't understand," she said.  "A lot of these schools and universities don't understand that it's important to make sure that you're not just admitting the one or the two (students).  You have to bring kids in in groups."

Obama complimented another student on how poised she was. "I'm so proud of you," Obama said. "I'm so proud of you all, my gosh."

In continuing to push the initiative Reach Higher, Obama aims to inspire every student in America to finish their education beyond high school in order to receive a two- or four-year degree, a certificate or a credential.

Reach Higher is partnering with Yoobi, a school-supply company, to donate school supplies to the 900 primary - and middle-school students in the Gila River Indian Community.

Michelle Obama was accompanied by Valerie Jarrett, a long-time aide to former President Barack Obama.

-Sowmya Sangam

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Michelle Obama  Arizona  Indian community