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Michelle Obama encourages Oberlin College graduates to hold elected office

By
Amy R. Connolly
First Lady Michelle Obama reacts as she makes comments before presenting the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on May 18. Monday, she made the commencement address at Oberlin College in Ohio. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
First Lady Michelle Obama reacts as she makes comments before presenting the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on May 18. Monday, she made the commencement address at Oberlin College in Ohio. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

OBERLIN, Ohio, May 25 (UPI) -- First lady Michelle Obama encouraged Oberlin College graduates Monday to dig deep into their local communities to volunteer, hold elected office and "shake things up."

Obama told the nearly 700 graduates of the liberal arts college they have to move past their comfort zones as they leave the school to push for change, carry on the "Oberlin legacy of service and social justice" and "run to, not away from the noise."

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

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

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For the winning entry, Oberlin College senior Patrick Gilfether produced a video about 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," Oberlin spokesman Scott Wargo said.

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Obama, also presented with an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, urged graduates to not become discouraged when they leave the college and move to the next phases of their lives.

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

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