Michelle Obama thegrio.com
Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at The Royal Festival Hall on December 03, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The sixth annual College Signing Day kicked off with former first lady Michelle Obama offering up encouraging tidbits to the 9,000 incoming college students. She told them to step into their excellence as she steps back to allow them to lead the way.

“You are the future,” she told the captive audience at the Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus in Westwood Village, Los Angeles, Newsweek reports.

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“People like me and [former President] Barack [Obama] are stepping out of the way, to allow you guys to take the lead and in order to be those leaders you’ve got to be ready.”

“You’ve got to have the knowledge and the discipline; you have to have guts.”

Obama who has achieved a remarkable college career congratulated the high school students for having resilience through the process.

“You overcame so many hurdles, it must have felt special to receive those acceptance letters,” she said.

“You’re about to make the best investment you can possibly make.”

She reminded the students that their hard work and resilience which brought them to this point is needed to continue their journey throughout college.

“None of us does this alone,” she explained.

“If you stumble and stumbling happens to all of us, I want you to get back up.”

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“It’s not about not failing, anybody who’s achieved anything has failed and failed again. It’s not the failure, it’s the ability to bounce back from that failure.”

And when it comes to reaching higher beyond their wildest dreams, Obama said to go for it, something some people discourage her to do.

“I had someone tell me that I shouldn’t reach too high,” she said. “They told me that I wanted too much for myself, I should dream a little smaller.”

“In those times—because they will come up—you have to ask yourselves whether you’re gonna believe the haters or whether you’re gonna believe the own truth of your story,” she added.

The event was created by Obama in 2014 and is in its sixth year. It was hosted by Better Make Room and Reach Higher initiatives, both helmed by Obama.

Celebrity guests NBA and NFL players as well as John Legend, Usher, Conan O’Brien, Lea Michele, Elizabeth Banks, and Don Cheadle joined in the festivities.