Michelle Obama's final address as First Lady (2017)

On January 6, 2017, in celebration of the National School Counselor of the Year, Michelle Obama gave some words she hopes young Americans will always remember.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. priority
    status established in order of importance or urgency
    Because let’s be honest, if we’re always shining the spotlight on professional athletes or recording artists or Hollywood celebrities, if those are the only achievements we celebrate, then why would we ever think kids would see college as a priority?
  2. mimic
    imitate, especially for satirical effect
    We wanted to mimic all the drama and excitement traditionally reserved for those few amazing football and basketball players choosing their college and university teams.
  3. achievement
    the action of accomplishing something
    We wanted to focus that same level of energy and attention on kids going to college because of their academic achievements.
  4. daunting
    discouraging through fear
    Because as a nation, that’s where the spotlight should also be — on kids who work hard in school and do the right thing when no one is watching, many beating daunting odds.
  5. support
    something providing immaterial assistance
    Next, we launched Better Make Room. It’s a social media campaign to give young people the support and inspiration they need to actually complete higher education.
  6. affordable
    reasonably priced
    We are also very proud of all that this administration has done to make higher education more affordable.
  7. role
    the actions and activities assigned to a person or group
    And we know that school counselors like all of the folks standing with me on this stage have played a critical role in helping us get there.
  8. financial
    involving fiscal matters
    In fact, a recent study showed that students who met with a school counselor to talk about financial aid or college were three times more likely to attend college, and they were nearly seven times more likely to apply for financial aid.
  9. counselor
    someone who gives advice about problems
    So our school counselors are truly among the heroes of the Reach Higher story.
  10. phenomenal
    exceedingly or unbelievably great
    We wanted everyone to know about the difference that these phenomenal men and women have been making in the lives of our young people every day.
  11. promise
    grounds for feeling hopeful about the future
    You see the promise in each of your students. You believe in them even when they can’t believe in themselves, and you work tirelessly to help them be who they were truly meant to be.
  12. overwhelming
    very intense
    And you do it all in the face of some overwhelming challenges — tight budgets, impossible student- counselor ratios — yeah, amen — endless demands on your time.
  13. anxious
    causing or fraught with or showing anxiety
    You stick with students in their darkest moments, when they’re most anxious and afraid.
  14. matter
    have importance or weight
    These men and women show them that those kids matter; that they have something to offer; that no matter where they’re from or how much money their parents have, no matter what they look like or who they love or how they worship or what language they speak at home, they have a place in this country.
  15. background
    a person's social heritage, previous experience, or training
    So for all the young people in this room and those who are watching, know that this country belongs to you — to all of you, from every background and walk of life.
  16. infusion
    the act of introducing a modifying element or quality
    If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition — the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest country on earth.
  17. possible
    capable of happening or existing
    But with a lot of hard work and a good education, anything is possible — even becoming President.
  18. diversity
    noticeable variety
    If you are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great American tradition, too.
  19. compassion
    a deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering
    And whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh — these religions are teaching our young people about justice, and compassion, and honesty.
  20. glorious
    having great beauty and splendor
    You see, our glorious diversity — our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are.
  21. earn
    acquire or deserve by one's efforts or actions
    But I also want to be very clear: This right isn’t just handed to you. No, this right has to be earned every single day.
  22. preserve
    keep in safety and protect from harm, loss, or destruction
    Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms.
  23. engaged
    having one's attention or mind or energy consumed
    You need to prepare yourself to be informed and engaged as a citizen, to serve and to lead, to stand up for our proud American values and to honor them in your daily lives.
  24. critical
    characterized by careful evaluation and judgment
    And that means getting the best education possible so you can think critically, so you can express yourself clearly, so you can get a good job and support yourself and your family, so you can be a positive force in your communities.
  25. obstacle
    something that stands in the way and must be surmounted
    And when you encounter obstacles — because I guarantee you, you will, and many of you already have — when you are struggling and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago, something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives, and that is the power of hope
  26. fundamental
    serving as an essential component
    It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country.
  27. inspire
    spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
    The hope that when people see us for who we truly are, maybe, just maybe they, too, will be inspired to rise to their best possible selves.
  28. determined
    characterized by great firmness of purpose
    So don’t be afraid — you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined.
  29. empower
    give qualities or abilities to
    Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.
  30. dedication
    complete and wholehearted fidelity
    And I am so grateful to all of you for your passion and your dedication and all the hard work on behalf of our next generation.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.