Melanija Knavs (Melania Knauss) was born on April 26, 1970, in Novo Mesto, Slovenia (the former Yugoslavia) to parents Viktor and Amalija Knavs.
As a young woman, Melania studied design before pausing her studies to pursue a modeling career abroad. She became a successful fashion model, appearing in television advertisements, fashion magazines, and billboards. She came to the United States during the 1990s and continued her modeling career. On January 22, 2005, she married businessman and real estate mogul Donald J. Trump at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. The following year, the couple welcomed their son, Barron.
When Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, Melania Trump became the second first lady born outside of the United States (the first being Louisa Catherine Adams) and the only first lady to become a naturalized U.S. citizen (2006).
As first lady, Mrs. Trump advocated for children and devoted efforts to helping young people navigate the many issues they face in an ever-changing society. In 2018, she announced BE BEST, an awareness campaign that promoted healthy living, kindness, and respect among and for children. The initiative consisted of three pillars: well-being, including the social and emotional health of children; social media, focusing on understanding its positive as well as negative effects on children; and opioid abuse, striving to protect the most vulnerable from the effects of drug abuse while educating people of all ages about the detrimental effects of opioid addiction.
Mrs. Trump also traveled to many countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Canada, Great Britain, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Vatican City, and India during her time as first lady. She also embarked on a week-long solo tour of Africa in 2018 in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). During her trip, she visited the countries of Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, and Egypt, meeting with local leaders, teachers, and students of all ages.
While living in the White House, Mrs. Trump supported the ongoing restoration of the White House’s historic Bellangé furniture suite. She also worked with the White House Historical Association on a number of projects, including new wall fabric in the Red Room; new rugs for the Diplomatic Reception Room and Yellow Oval Room; the acquisition of the Isamu Noguchi sculpture Floor Frame; and several other conservation projects.
On the morning of January 20, 2021, Mrs. Trump and her husband left the White House for the last time. They boarded Marine One and headed to Joint Base Andrews, where family, staff, and supporters gathered for a short ceremony. The president and first lady then traveled by Air Force One to Palm Beach, Florida, and by motorcade to their Mar-a-Lago Club.
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