First Lady Michelle Obama worked to inspire and challenge Bowie State graduates Friday. Mrs. Obama was the guest speaker at the commencement ceremony at the Comcast Center. She reminded the new graduates of the school's place in history. And as Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports, Mrs. Obama had a firm idea of what needs to be in their future.
The first lady received an honorary degree from Bowie State University before speaking to about 600 graduates during their commencement Friday.
Michelle Obama received the Honorary Doctorate of Law during the ceremony. She then spoke to the students about their perseverance.
"We need to dig deep to find the grit and determination for students today like the first students of Bowie State," the first lady told the crowd. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of the sacrifices my parents made for me."
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker III tweeted Friday that the "2013 BSU grads will never forget [Michelle Obama's] words."
The event was held on at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland in College Park to accommodate a crowd of more than 10,000.
When the first lady's appearance was first announced, some parents and professors were disappointed because they wanted he historic event to take place at the Bowie State campus. However, due to crowd concerns and possible weather issues, university officials thought it would be best for the commencement to be held at a larger indoor facility.
"I am ecstatic," one new graduate told News4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins. "Obama came to our school, and now his wife is here at our graduation. The first time I got to vote, I voted for Obama. The second time I voted for Obama. I'm making history."
Bowie State is the oldest historically black college in Maryland. Nearly 150 years old, Bowie State has approximately 5,400 students.
President Barack Obama and the first lady have been supportive of historically black colleges and universities. Michelle Obama has previously delivered commencement speeches at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Spelman College and North Carolina A&T.
"We think it's an honor to have her speak," said a family member. "My niece is the first generation [in the family] to actually graduate college, so this is also an honor as well."