Michelle Obama spoke at the invitation of her older brother,
Craig Robinson, the head men's basketball coach at OSU and said she
was honored to do so because of such OSU achievements as "building
one of the most sustainable campuses in America" and "cutting-edge
During her 21-minute speech, Obama offered students lessons she
said would get them successfully through life and spoke on how she
and her brother learned about hard work growing up in a struggling
working class family with high expectations. She continued by
saying that life is defined by more than a paycheck, and urged
graduates to focus on what they have.
"Success isn't about how your life looks to others. It's about
how it feels to you, " she said. "Success is not about being
impressive. It means being inspired."
The first lady was awarded an honorary doctorate in public
health for her work on fighting childhood obesity and improving
health. On receiving the honour, a tearful Michelle Obama reflected
on her childhood and early career, and advised graduates to keep in
close touch with the family and friends who are important to them,
saying she never missed a chance to tell her father she loved him
before he died from complications of multiple sclerosis.
"As you've all learned from the friends you've made and the
relationships you've formed here at OSU, what truly makes life rich
are the people you share it with."
After OSU President Ed Ray placed the discipline's royal blue
stole over her graduation gown, the first lady held up her diploma
and raised a triumphant fist before mouthing "Go Beavers!"
In reference to her family, the first lady said that "all the
Obamas" have become Beaver Believers since her brother began
coaching here. She also indicated that the President would be
watching a public television broadcast of the commencement.
OSU is one of the few U.S. universities of its size to still
hand each student his or her actual diploma, rather than present a
generic certificate and later send out actual diplomas in the
Steve Clark, OSU's vice president of university relations, said
the task for handing out each diploma can be an operation in itself
but this year's turnout far exceeded a regular year, and that
"planning for this was unlike anything else."
"Last year we had 12-15,000 people here, including graduates and
guests," Clark said. "So we more than doubled. That's amazing."
In a brief press conference before the ceremony, Craig Robinson
said his "little sister" would be visiting his home afterward and
meeting her newest nephew, born four months ago to Robinson and his
Mrs Obama told graduates and their families she was looking
forward to that visit.
"When I come out here to Corvallis, I am not the first lady, I
am Coach Robinson's little sister," she said. "I sleep on the
pullout couch in their guest room."