First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to students at Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High School Monday. Mrs. Obama told students to plan on going to college. But some students have already jump-started the process.
The First Lady didn’t hold back. She told students earning a high school diploma isn’t enough if they want to compete in a global workforce.
“There are many paths that you can take, whether that’s a professional training program, a four-year school, like Georgia State or Emory or Clark Atlanta, but no matter where you go, the important thing is that you go somewhere,” she said.
She urged students to experience college life ahead of time.
“It’s so important for you, if you get an opportunity, to spend some time on a college campus,” Mrs. Obama said. “I didn’t do that; I didn’t have the money. But you all live near so many colleges, there’s no reason for you not to spend a weekend or a week seeing what it’s like being on a college campus.”
Washington, which is 99% African-American, is located near historically black colleges like Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta. According to state data, 100% of students qualify for free and reduced meals.
And some Washington High students are already putting the First Lady’s words into action. They’re taking advantage of Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program. The plan allows high school students to simultaneously take college courses at nearby schools.
“On Tuesday and Thursday, a bus comes and takes us and it brings us back,” says senior Brittany Brown. “We go and take our classes and we eat lunch there, of course, just giving us a great college experience of what it’s like early. I think it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Brown is taking classes at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. She plans to go to Georgia Southern University in the fall. If she does, she’ll be a second-semester freshman, thanks to the credit she’ll earn this year.
The same is true for senior Jeremiah Sutton. He’s dual enrolled at Clark Atlanta University. Even though he’s already thinking ahead, Sutton said the First Lady’s message hit home.
“I think that her coming to our school was a good opportunity for students to see someone who is currently growing up in a neighborhood such as this one who has made it,” he said. “So, that was a great example.”
Clark Atlanta is one of Sutton’s top three college choices. Morehouse and Howard University, in Washington, D.C., also top his list.