COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — The first lady delivers a commencement speech for 600 Bowie State University graduates.

But for one Baltimore senior, the speech was personal.

Christie Ileto has more from the young lady who Michelle Obama mentioned by name.

Graduating from college is the pinnacle of these 600 Bowie State seniors’ college careers. But getting a sendoff from the first lady of the United States Friday, that’s something to remember.

And for Baltimore native Ariel Williams-Edwards, it’s personal.

“Oh my goodness! That’s what went ran my mind. I can’t believe she’s mentioning my name!” said Williams-Edwards.

Michelle Obama championed Williams-Edwards beating the odds. She’s an honor student who had many family challenges, including a parent struggling with substance abuse.

“But Ariel decided to draw inspiration from her struggle,” the first lady said.

The First Lady challenged students to live up to the university’s legacy by stressing the importance of education and the need to increase the number of high school and college grads, especially in the African-American community.

“A lot of people my age, they don’t really value education. So it’s really big, it was a really great message,” said Williams-Edwards.

Bowie State University is celebrating its 148th anniversary this year, making it Maryland’s oldest historically black college university.

“Instead of dreaming of being a teacher, a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper,” said Michelle Obama.

“It’s just an honor to have the first lady here,” a graduate said.

“A new found inspiration, like she said, and just a new found strength like you can take on the world,” another grad said.

And as for the Class of 2013, they walk away with encouraging words and a pat on the back from the First Lady. A job well done.

This is Michelle Obama’s first time speaking to Bowie State. The president has spoken twice, once in 2006, the other in 2010.


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