Michelle Obama shares throwback photo in congratulatory post to 2021 graduates

"In a year defined by so much difficulty and loss," wrote Obama on Instagram, "you never gave up or called it quits."

Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared a throwback photo of one of her commencements in an Instagram post paying tribute to students graduating in 2021. 

Beginning a lengthy missive, Obama wrote, “Congratulations, Class of 2021!” accented with a party hat emoji. 

Former First Lady Michelle Obama helps her husband close the 2019 Obama Foundation Summit on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“From navigating virtual learning to finding new ways to develop relationships with teachers and classmates — while somehow submitting your assignments on time — you overcame so much this year with grace and humor,” she wrote.

“When I think about how you must be feeling right now, I am reminded of my own experience as a younger woman, just getting started as an adult,” Obama continued. “The excitement I felt was often accompanied by doubts and worries. I still remember all those questions I kept asking myself, Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Can I do this? Over time, I proved to myself that the answer to all of those questions was ‘yes.’ But, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy to do. And I know that while you’re getting ready to take that next step, so many of you might be feeling some of that, too.” 

She offered congratulations to the graduates for excelling “in a year defined by so much difficulty and loss,” noting they “never gave up or called it quits. Instead, you studied. You marched. You kept one another safe. And you took those first steps toward building a brighter future not just for yourselves but for all of us.” 

Obama encouraged this year’s graduates to share their experiences and a photo from their graduation day or to “shout out” another graduate using the hashtags #DearGrad and #ReachHigher. 

The Reach Higher initiative was developed by the former FLOTUS during the administration of her husband, President Barack Obama, to inspire the students of America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college or a four-year college or university.

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