"Each of us comes here," Michelle Obama told America at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, "by our own improbable journey . . . driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be."
Mrs. Obama’s journey began in the South Side of Chicago, where Fraser and Marian Robinson instilled in their daughter a heartfelt commitment to family, hard work, and education. Her father worked as a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department while her mother stayed at home to care for Michelle and her older brother Craig. As she watched her father refuse to give in to multiple sclerosis, use two canes to get to his job, and save money to send her to college, she learned that "the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them."
After graduating from Chicago’s Whitney Young Magnet High School in 1981, Michelle earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in sociology and African American studies and a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School. In 1988, after finishing law school, she began her professional career by returning to Chicago to join the law firm of Sidley Austin. It was there that she was introduced to her future husband Barack Obama when he was hired as a summer associate in 1989 and she was assigned to be his summer advisor. They were married in 1992.
She remained with Sidley Austin until 1991, when she turned her energies to public service. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service. In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago as associate dean of student services where she developed the university’s first community service program. In 2002 she went to work for the University of Chicago Medical Center,where in 2005 she became the vice president of community and external affairs. Michelle and Barack Obama have two daughters, Malia, born in 1998, and Sasha, born in 2001.
As first lady, Mrs. Obama looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart—supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, and encouraging national service.