Her voice breaking, first lady Michelle Obama told a crowd of students Friday, “I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you the rest of my life.”

So ended Obama’s final speech before leaving the White House at the end of this month. The first lady, speaking at a “Counselor of the Year Event” as part of her “Reach Higher” initiative, held back tears during the emotional address. [Her address begins at 2:18:41 in the above video.]

NPR labeled it “a passionate pep talk to the nation’s young people, especially immigrants, Muslims and others who might feel slighted by the incoming Trump administration.”

Obama also focused on diversity and the importance of taking part in higher education, urging the students in the audience to stay positive in the wake of a Trump presidency.

She emphasized the need for hope in the years to come, a sentiment that her husband repeatedly used throughout his presidential campaigns.

“It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and the life of this country,” she stated. “That’s the kind of hope that every single one of us—politicians, parents, preachers, all of us—need to be providing for our young people.”

The speech wrapped up on a particularly emotional note as Obama said, “Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I’ve made you proud.”

Commentators on social media largely applauded Obama’s bittersweet final address:

CNN noted

that while this was Obama’s final official White House speech, she has one more appearance left—on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” next week.

—Posted by Emma Niles


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